A world-renowned performing arts high school should have the very best facilities to help its students perform at their peak in practice, rehearsal and performance. Thanks in part to Wenger Corporation, I.M. Terrell Academy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and Visual and Performing Arts in Fort Worth, Texas, now has exactly that. After a major renovation and addition of a new performing arts center to the school, it now houses a suite of Wenger and J.R. Clancy products to help its musically gifted students thrive.
A Wenger Diva Acoustical Shell with a maple veneer finish is the focal point of the 900-seat theatre inside the newly created performing arts center (PAC). The 65,000-square-foot PAC sits atop a hill with beautiful downtown views and is a beacon for the district and the community. It is the school’s first performance hall, built to serve the many students focused on theatre, music and other fine arts, but to also serve the surrounding community.
“We have other performance venues in Fort Worth, but this would be the perfect size for the school, the district and the community,” said Christina Walk, Head of Visual and Performing Arts at I.M. Terrell. “Various arts organizations are always looking for affordable space. We knew our facility needed superior acoustics so our space would be attractive to anyone wanting to use it.”
The PAC expansion team included the school’s administration, Corgan Architects, WJHW Theatre Consultants, Batts Audio, Video and Lighting, Turner Construction and Wenger Corporation.
“We met with all of the different groups who would be using the space, including teachers, fine arts directors and music directors to make sure we met their needs,” explained Jason Mellard, Architect with Corgan.
Batts Audio selected J.R. Clancy products for the theatre rigging needs, installing three Titan Hoists, 28 PowerLift Hoists, a fire curtain line shaft hoist and a SceneControl 15 with a remote operating pendant.
“This is a premier performing arts space, so everyone wanted the best equipment,” said Mark Batts, CEO of Batts Audio, Video and Lighting (AVL). “J.R. Clancy products fit the bill and the budget, which was a big benefit.”
“We really appreciated that Wenger was very deliberate in making sure we knew how things worked,” said Tim Brendler, Head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. “They walked us through every element and possible configuration. The flexibility that it affords us is wonderful.”
The stage includes a custom-designed Wenger STRATA Orchestra Pit Filler, which can be quickly installed with only a small crew. It provides strong support above and open space below with an innovative column-beam design. The acoustically dampened decks fit snugly against the stage to create an extremely quiet, integrated surface.
A Black Box Theatre provides a separate, smaller performance space for smaller audiences where Wenger’s StageTek Seated Risers and Staging equipment can be configured in a variety of ways. The flexibility to quickly and easily manipulate the risers to accommodate a variety of performances is key.
“We can host a larger audience by placing seated risers around the entire room and then performing in the round,” Tim said. They have hosted robotics competitions and small theatre productions, too. Similar to the shell in the theatre, he says the flexibility of the risers is key.
“It is wonderful to have so many different levels,” he said. “When hosting show choir competitions, it is great to be able to quickly and easily manipulate the configuration.”
The new wing also included band, orchestra and choral rooms. It was important for the school to have superior rehearsal rooms with built-in acoustic systems as well as smaller practice spaces to create an entire suite of practice, rehearsal and performance areas.
The band room houses Wenger Nota chairs to ensure proper posture and Roughneck music stands which are durable enough to handle daily use. AcoustiCabinets line the walls for efficient instrument storage, which include specially designed grille doors, acoustically absorptive material and reliable durability to produce storage that can help enhance the room’s acoustical performance.
Four modular Soundlok Sound Isolation Rooms with VAE technology allow individuals and small groups to practice in their own private space, without interrupting nearby rehearsals. The rooms are 25 percent quieter than others and have the correct amount of absorption and diffusion so the musician can clearly hear the best possible sound. Virtual acoustics options allow the student to learn how to adapt to performing in different performance spaces and get immediate feedback with a record/playback function.
“Most teachers are in an environment where there are eight ensembles happening in the same room,” Tim said. “The modules we installed provide different spaces for ensembles and individual practice.”
The choral room includes a white board for teacher notes, Nota chairs, StageTek risers, Rack ‘N Roll Garment Racks, four additional Soundlok Sound Isolation Rooms and eight music library units.
“Having rooms specifically dedicated to the band, orchestra and choir really motivates the students,” said Christina. “The rooms are well designed, and the windows offer spectacular views of downtown Fort Worth.”
The new PAC is stunning and impressive by all accounts. Wide hallways lead to generous specialty classrooms with all of the latest technology and useful equipment.
“The Diva shell and the variety of spaces enable us to do what we love: collaborate to a higher degree at a professional level,” said Tim.
“Everyone loves this space,” said Christina. “If it didn’t have excellent acoustics, it wouldn’t have been worth building. From the practice rooms to the rehearsal spaces to the hall, everything sounds great.”