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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Amphitheater design based on historical sites
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Courtesy Sketch: This is the front view of the stage of the proposed amphitheater in Mary Elizabeth Park. It is designed to accommodate different kinds of musical and theatrical performances. It would include both outdoor and indoor stages.

Friday, November 27, 2009

By JOEL TURNER - Staff Writer

The design of the stage building for the proposed amphitheater in Mary Elizabeth Park was inspired by the historic Washington Iron Works furnace on Old Furnace Road.

The remnant from Franklin County's industrial past is rich with forms and materials that have been used to create the design of the primary stage area.

Some of the stonework is also utilized in other portions of the building.

In addition, the architects have captured the rolling hills and landscape of the area in the entrance to the building.

The stage building is designed to accommodate different kinds of musical and theatrical performances. It would include both outdoor and indoor stages. The outdoor stage is sized for a large band and theatrical performances.

The stage building includes men's and women's dressing rooms and a green room for performers to warm up before a show.

The exterior of the stage building is a combination of masonry, stone and pre-finished metal panels, requiring little or no maintenance. The interior partitions are painted masonry construction, and the floor is a concrete slab. The stage is the only component made of wood. The stage area and rooms are soundproofed.

The stage is designed for different kinds of performances at different times of the year. As an outdoor venue, the wing walls can be shaped to create a small space on stage for a small band, or they can be moved to the perimeter for large bands.

The stage can also be enclosed for winter month performances and to secure the building when not in use. When enclosing the stage, the movable wall panels go to the front of the stage and create an enclosure for the indoor stage.

As an indoor performance area, a smaller stage is created that can accommodate about 200 spectators.

The plan calls for the stage to be equipped with a retractable projection screen for multi-media performances, including public movie viewings.

The architects recommend that the stage building have a house system, designed and built to include basic sound and lighting systems.

They said the sound and light systems would be customized to "control the sound bleed into the neighborhood."

"One of the primary design criteria of this system will be its ability to reduce unwanted sound projection into the surrounding neighborhoods," the architects said.

The architects have recommended that the amphitheater be constructed in two phases.

The first phase would include the stage building, sound and light equipment, and the site development. In 2010 dollars, the cost is estimated at $2.8 million.

The second phase would include the concession building and additional site development. The cost is estimated at $583,000.

The main amphitheater entrance for spectators, performers and workers would be located to the west of the facility near The Franklin Center.

The architects agree that parking is a concern for some citizens, the architects said. But they have located parking areas that aren't on the site, yet are close to the amphitheater for use during medium to large events. There are 665 parking spaces within a few blocks of the site in addition to on-street parking in the town, they added. These privately and publicly owned sites can be used, and a fee can be charged at the owner's discretion.

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