Youngker High School Performing Arts
The space that functions best for performance is the space that asserts itself least into the experience of the audience. It must isolate the audience from their present reality in order that they might be captivated by that of the performance. It must be visually, acoustically, and environmentally distraction-free so that the attention of the audience is uninterrupted. There can be no errant light, no impertinent noise, no distracting draft, no discomfortable material. The best-designed performance spaces are those that are content to fade into the background with the dimming of the lights so that they are little noticed by an audience. Such was the space required for the house of the Performing Arts Center at Youngker High School in Buckeye, Arizona. An addition to an existing campus, the design also had to meet the challenge of blending into a distinct aesthetic derived from the rural heritage of the surroundings.
To do so, a unique construction method was chosen utilizing a pre-engineered metal building for the majority of the structure. This means of construction not only allowed the building for blend with the existing campus aesthetics, but also meant it could do so more economically, and be constructed more quickly, than a traditional structure. Another challenge faced by the design was that of consistent jet noise from an active U.S. Air Force base nearby. Walls, ceilings, and roofs were designed to mitigate this noise using deep sections and dense insulation. If the main chamber of the performance is designed to fade away during the performance, then the spaces preceding it in the ought to be preparatory as they anticipate the forthcoming drama and gradually isolate the audience from the world outside.
To this end, the experience of the Youngker Performing Arts Center begins as one approaches the site and sees a glowing beacon of light in the distance. As one draws closer this light resolves into that emanating from the soaring three-story lobby space. Proceeding on foot, the audience is greeted by a brightly lit entry courtyard and dramatic roof cantilevers. The height of the lobby gives a feeling of expansion before the audience enters a long, low corridor, compressing their senses before opening up into the space of the quiet and attenuated seating chamber. While creating these dramatic spaces, the design had to also meet budget constraints. The systems of the building were kept simple and straightforward, resulting in an elegance of form. Likewise, items of practical essence, such as columns and stairs, were celebrated. The stairs to the control room become a centerpiece in the lobby and provide a space for a refreshments to be served.
Simple materials such as board-formed concrete walls and metal panels were utilized, yet there use was informed by the musical traditions of the rural heritage. Other features supporting the performance space include a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system with ope