Mill Center for the Arts
Mill Center for the Arts
Hendersonville, North Carolina
The city of Hendersonville, North Carolina hosted a competition asking architects to create a community-wide facility to serve diverse cultural groups as a place for the creative arts.
Utilizing the inherent synergy between visual and performing arts, Martinez+Johnson’s design created a forum for artistic disciplines to come together as a center for the community of Hendersonville and the surrounding county of Henderson and the Blue Ridge Mountains basin area.
M+J’s design seeks to reinforce connections to the energy of historic Main Street through legible routes leading to the center. Framing the complex within a “green” zone establishes a sense of arrival and identity, with supportive exterior public spaces and a park-like setting with buffering edges. This scheme celebrates the familiar industrial exterior of the historic Grey Hosiery Mill, reflecting the scale of the city as well as interior areas offering flexible, well-lighted space exhibiting considerable architectural character. The two great halls of the mill would be restored and connected by a cortile, thus creating spaces for a versatile Fine Arts Center utilizing a combination of dark and light, open and closed, found and created spaces. The handsome rhythm of large industrial openings in the weathered masonry walls would be restored, emerging contrapuntal to new crystalline infill elements, including skylights, bays, and appendages.
The plan focused on new construction of the Performing Arts wrapping around the old mill in a crescent shaped concourse layer linking multiple arrival points, defined by a two-story glass form shaping the exterior public spaces and bringing together the fine arts and performing components. The public parterre defined by these edges balances old against new, forming a collective space for activities ranging from quiet contemplation to outdoor workshops to large-scale performances. The 1,200-seat Performance Theatre addresses the needs of diverse performing groups based on different performance requirements, levels of professionalism, audience sizes, and more. The elliptical audience chamber is designed to foster intimacy between audience and performers, and the theatre and surrounding nature. An aperture punctures the dome of the ceiling, offering glimpses to starts of the night sky simultaneous with the stars on stage. The Stage House itself is a sculptural composition visible from great distances, while elegant ramps and stairs of the main theatre and the flanking Black Box and Special Event spaces fill the “wrappers” around the audience chamber.