Design team announced for Stevens Center renovation

Dear Campus Community,

I am pleased to announce that we are moving forward with our top capital priority at UNCSA, the renovation of our historic Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

Following a nationwide search, the nationally recognized firms Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, based in Charlotte, and Steinberg Hart, based in Los Angeles, were selected as the design team that will lead Phase One of a multiphase, comprehensive renovation. The selection was approved by the UNCSA Board of Trustees at its April 29 meeting.

Little and Steinberg Hart will begin working to maximize the initial $29.8 million appropriation from the state allocated in the budget approved in November 2021, for Phase One of the project. UNCSA will continue to seek a combination of public and private funding for this and future phases of the comprehensive renovation.

Together, the team of Little and Steinberg Hart has programmed, designed and constructed more than 80 art centers that serve academic institutions and their surrounding communities. Little is recognized for its North Carolina educational expertise with 400 statewide higher education projects, including Queens University Gambrell Center, Charlotte Catholic High School Performing Arts Center, and Central Piedmont Academic Center in Charlotte. Steinberg Hart brings a national perspective and related experience including the restored and reinvigorated performance venue for the Manhattan School of Music in New York; the iconic Pablo Center at the Confluence for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; and ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, which has served as a national model for integrating literacy, education, and the performing arts in downtown Charlotte.

Melanie Reddrick, executive principal-in-charge of Little, who will be the architect of record, told me: “We are thrilled to be selected for this exciting project. The Stevens Center is a significant historic treasure and it holds great meaning for UNCSA and the region. We will work closely with university and community stakeholders to give this remarkable theater a new lease on life. When we are finished, our hope is that the Stevens Center brings joy to Winston-Salem for another 100 years.”

Delia Nevola AIA, Steinberg Hart managing principal, New York, shared with me: "The goal to bring the Stevens Center into the 21st century while maintaining its historic significance in the community is a lofty one and the design team is delighted to join UNCSA in this ambitious endeavor. We seek to create a reimagined building that will actively engage with the university and the surrounding arts district through memorable experiences that build community and connection."

About the renovation

The Stevens Center will remain online and open for rehearsals and performances at least through the 2022-23 season. Phase One of the renovation, expected to take three years, will include establishing a final scope of work and project budget, design development, and the beginning of the multiyear renovation process, including critical roof and building envelope repairs as well as interior improvements. Advance planning and design will begin immediately and are expected to take between 12-18 months, after which the entire building is anticipated to go dark for approximately two years during the renovation. Information about alternate venues for the UNCSA performance season, community programs and partner organizations during the time that the Stevens Center is offline will be announced at a later date. 

The Stevens Center serves as the largest learning laboratory at UNCSA, an economic driver for downtown Winston-Salem, and a cultural destination for both residents and visitors. It has been almost 40 years since its last significant renovation and the building is in need of repairs and modern upgrades. UNCSA will continue to seek input from the Winston-Salem community for the project, as well as partner organizations such as the Winston-Salem Symphony, Piedmont Opera and the National Black Theatre Festival, among others, who utilize the Stevens Center. Goals of the renovation include improving the patron and artistic experience for all the venue’s constituents, and making critical upgrades to modernize the student learning experience, as well as completing necessary roof and building envelope repair. Efforts will be made to retain the building’s original character. For more information about the renovation, please see the press release.

We’re overjoyed to be taking the first steps toward making the long-awaited and long-overdue renovation of the Stevens Center a reality. It bodes incredibly well that we are working with the highly talented and nationally recognized team of Little and Steinberg Hart to lead this important project both for UNCSA and for the greater Winston-Salem community. A vibrant Stevens Center will stimulate our downtown economy and enhance our contribution to The City of Arts and Innovation. I am grateful that state legislative leaders and the governor, as well as our Forsyth County delegation and UNC System leadership, share our vision and recognize the importance of and potential for the landmark theater, and we are hopeful for their ongoing support as we move through this multiphase process. We are excited to get to work.


Brian Cole

June 09, 2022