Tour The Construction Progress At Dance Place

[read the original post on CurbedDC.com]
Thursday, March 13, 2014,

by Curbed DC Contributor

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[Photos by Gerry Suchy]

A waltz of hardhats, lumber, drywall and ductwork is currently under way at the former Dance Place building, as construction of the new facility continues into 2014. The $4 million renovation project by Hickok Cole Architects and Bognet Construction was made possible through Dance Place’s “Moving Forward” fundraising campaign to raise $5 million for the building renovation, program enhancement and organizational reserves.

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“The neighborhood needed a marquis, and this is it. The block will be completely transformed with this new cultural destination,” says Deborah Riley, director of Dance Place. The new space will bring incredible improvements for dancers, instructors, program directors and visitors alike. In addition to the “Touch My Building” sound/light tower by artist Christopher Janney, the façade will be deconstructed to add new windows and create a new entrance on the north side of the structure. Inside will be a revamped lobby, an “arts bar” with a black granite countertop, and a modern box office. The lobby tower’s translucent glass panels of pink, green, blue and orange will welcome hues of color into the space.

Major things are coming to the back of the house too. New offices are being built on the 2nd floor above the lobby. Adjacent to the offices will be a new technology booth that will no longer require a rope swing for entry. While the property line easements did not allow for expansion at the front end of the building, the back is being expanded out toward the Metro tracks to make room for new dressing rooms and staging areas. On the second floor of this expansion will be a second practice studio/warm-up room. Also, the design features a new wraparound corridor providing a much-needed walkway—no longer will dancers need to run outside in tights to navigate from the front to the back of the building.

In the main theater itself, the brick walls and original ceilings heights will remain, preserving the retro feel of the place. The project will add 150 wooden, cushioned seats that can be rolled back to make room for a main studio/classroom space. Curtains will cover the new laminate glass windows to insulate sound and light during performances, but these can be pulled back to bring light into the room during practice time.

New technology is happening as well. Up on the ceiling will be new house lights, spotlights and backstage worklights, as well as new duct work. A TV monitor will record the activities in the front of the house so the directors and dancers in the back can view patron activity before going onstage.

Boznet Construction is overcoming the challenge of working on an old brick building requiring structural retrofits. Because the existing structure stands over a community sewer line, the project team needed to rebuild the underpinnings and add structural reinforcement with helical piers to hold up the building footings, keeping the sewer line safe and allowing for potential underground access.

Dance Place is close to achieving its fundraising goal, but still needs another $600,000 by September. A sponsor is still being sought for the official name of the theater. Plus, the campaign is accepting donations in exchange for personal nameplates on 53 theater seats….Ever dreamed of having a chair with your name on it?
—Lauren Pinch

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