The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has announced the selection of the nationally recognized firms Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, based in Charlotte, and Steinberg Hart, based in Los Angeles, as the design team that will lead Phase One of a multiphase, comprehensive renovation of the historic Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem. The team was selected following a nationwide search and was approved by the UNCSA Board of Trustees at the April 29 meeting.
Little and Steinberg Hart will help determine the current cost and phasing strategy to maximize the $29.8 million appropriation in the current North Carolina state budget, approved in November 2021, for Phase One of the comprehensive renovation of the building. UNCSA will continue to seek a combination of public and private funding for this and future phases of the comprehensive renovation.
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, Central Piedmont Academic Center in Charlotte and Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg. 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, the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center, an artistic hub for a growing downtown Florence, South Carolina cultural district, 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.
“We’re overjoyed to be taking the first real steps toward making our long-awaited and long-overdue dream of renovating the Stevens Center a reality,” said UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole. “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.”
“We are thrilled to be selected for this exciting project,” said Melanie Reddrick, executive principal-in-charge of Little, which will be the architect of record. “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.”
"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," said Delia Nevola AIA, Steinberg Hart managing principal, New York.
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 upcoming season (2022-23) will not be affected.
The historic 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. A preliminary concept master plan, developed in 2017 by Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) and DLR Group, in consultation with members of the Winston-Salem community as well as faculty, staff and students, laid the groundwork for turning the historic Stevens Center into a world-class performing arts venue.
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 multiphase, comprehensive renovation include improving the patron and artistic experience for all the venue’s constituents, making critical upgrades to modernize the student learning experience, as well completing necessary roof and building envelope repair. Efforts will be made to retain the building’s original character.
Originally a 1929 silent movie theater, the Stevens Center is a neoclassical building that was restored and reopened in 1983 with a redesigned stage and backstage that was able to house Broadway-scale live performances of music, theater, dance and opera.
Located in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., the 1,300-seat theater is the primary performance space for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts as well as for the Winston-Salem Symphony, Piedmont Opera, National Black Theatre Festival, and several other local arts organizations.
The Stevens Center has had a tremendous impact — locally as an economic catalyst for downtown development, regionally as a cultural anchor since the 1930s, and nationally as the launching pad for the careers of countless actors, dancers, technicians, musicians, and others on stage and behind the scenes.
Once the Carolina Theatre, the facility was renamed for theater producer Roger L. Stevens upon its initial renovation and was reopened with a star-studded gala featuring the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Bernstein conducting and Isaac Stern as soloist, and Gregory Peck as the master of ceremonies. Guests in attendance included Agnes de Mille, Cliff Robertson, Gov. James B. Hunt, President and Mrs. Gerald Ford, and former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.
The Stevens Center has played host to a range of notable events including the world premieres of Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers,” winner of a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards, and “Jake’s Women,” a 19-performance sellout starring Alan Alda. The UNCSA Presents series launched in 2018 brought Broadway back to Winston-Salem with “Kinky Boots” followed by “Once,” as well as performances by Kathy Mattea, Flor de Toloache, Steve Earle and the Dukes, Mavis Staples, the Del McCoury Band, Josh Ritter and more as part of the American Music Series.
Other performances throughout the theater’s history have included Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “State Fair,” Victor Borge, the Smothers Brothers, STOMP, Riders In The Sky, the Vienna Choir Boys, Béla Fleck, The Magic School Bus, Carol Channing and Rita Moreno, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Alison Krauss, the 35th Anniversary Reunion of “The Andy Griffith Show,” Gordon Lightfoot, Tony Bennett, and the filming of Chris Daughtry’s music video “September.”
Little is a national design firm recognized for crafting exceptional solutions that elevate client performance in the community, retail, workplace and healthcare industries. With nearly 400 professionals, the firm is recognized for its North Carolina educational expertise and the design of complex renovation projects. Little designed the Queens University Sarah Belk Gambrell Center for Arts & Civic Engagement, the Chapman Culture Center in Spartanburg, SC, and the Central Piedmont Community College Overcash Academic & Performing Arts Center, among other relevant projects. Little combines expertise in traditional architectural services (architecture, engineering, interior architecture) with proficiency in additional diversified architectural consulting services (planning, sustainability, site design, brand consulting, digital visualization and smart building technologies). For more information, visit www.littleonline.com.
Steinberg Hart is an international architecture, interiors, and planning firm headquartered in Los Angeles. The firm has built a diverse and talented team that works collaboratively across all seven offices challenging one another to develop designs that build community, enhance business, support learning, and connect people with place. For nearly 70 years, Steinberg Hart has shaped environments and created inspiring places through an idea-driven, results-oriented approach to design that spans education, arts, residential, urban mixed-use, hospitality, civic, and commercial sectors. This includes over 280 performing arts facilities designed and delivered nationwide. Steinberg Hart is known for innovation in design thinking and building technologies that help clients realize the full potential of their projects. To learn more, visit www.steinberghart.com.
Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)(OPENS IN NEW TAB)
June 09, 2022