Design work to start on $15.5 million PHSC performing arts center

Design work is expected to get underway soon on a Pasco-Hernando State College performing arts center that is planned for the Cypress Creek Middle High School campus, off Old Pasco Road.

The $15.5 million project will be built by the state college, but both the college and Pasco County Schools plan to use the facility for educational programming.

Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco County Schools, sees enormous potential for a planned $15.5 million performing arts center that will be built on the Cypress Creek Middle High School campus by Pasco-Hernando State College.
(B.C. Manion)

Additionally, Pasco County Schools is planning to begin construction on Pasco County Middle School, which is scheduled to open in August of 2020.

“We’re designing the middle school, with the performing arts in mind,” said Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent of Pasco County Schools.

“We’re going to have some dance rooms at the middle school. We’ll have a black box theater at the middle school. We’ll have a chorus room. We’ll have an orchestra room,” he said.

“Sometimes the college might be in our middle school at night, using the black box theater, and we might be in the new performing arts center, using the stage,” Gadd said.

Harvard Jolly — the architect for the middle school project — also has been selected to do the performing arts center, said Tony Rivas, PHSC’s associate vice president for facilities management and administrative services.

Creative Contractors has been selected as the construction management firm, Gadd said.

Both Creative Contractors and Harvard Jolly have experience with performing arts center projects, Rivas said.

The architect will be holding design charrettes with the users in January and February, to discuss design considerations.

The design must take into account the users’ needs, budget and state regulations for educational facilities, Gadd and Rivas said.

It also must consider how spaces interact with each other, Rivas said.

“You want to get certain things close to certain things, and you want to not necessarily be in proximity for other things because of noise levels or distractions. Those things come into play,” Rivas explained.

The arts center will be a teaching facility, but there’s also a desire to have a facility that can be used as a public venue, too, Gadd said.

Initially, the goal was to secure about $60 million in funding for a performing arts facility that would have accommodated about 3,500 seats, Gadd said. Actual funding came in at $15.5 million, which means the center will be much smaller.

Gadd said he hopes the new center will have a stage large enough to accommodate an orchestra. “If you have a stage that can hold an orchestra, then it can hold anything,” he said.

Construction is not likely to begin for about a year.

The college is in charge of construction, but the school district is providing about 5.5 acres for the site.

Lots of details regarding cost-sharing for operations and shared use of facilities still need to be worked out, Gadd added.

Betsy Kuhn, assistant superintendent for support services, said the school district plans to offer curriculum such as digital design courses, lighting, production, cinematography and traditional arts programs for students who are interested in the performing arts.

Rivas noted that that it’s very early in the process, but as things progress, information about the project will be shared in a number of venues to keep lines of communication open. For instance, the construction manager will have a website that will have progress photos and different milestone events.

“We have to be attuned to the fact that we are in the community. We’re going to keep that awareness and sensitivity, and always try to be a good neighbor,” Rivas said.

Creative Contractors has extensive experience in building performing arts centers — both professional and educational, said Joshua Bomstein, president of the Clearwater-based company.

“We’re finishing the Tampa Theatre renovation right now. We did the complete renovation of the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater. We’ve done all of the work at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater,” he said.

His company also did the Clearwater High School performing arts building, the performing arts building at Manatee High School, and the performing arts auditorium at Generations Christian Church in Trinity.

Bomstein is excited about the new project.

“This is going to be phenomenal facility. I predict and promise that,” he said.

Published December 27, 2017

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