ABOUT THE PROJECT
Revitalizing the Arts in Charlotte, NC this 1,150-seat multipurpose theater is located in the newly developed Levine Center for the Arts. With elegant shining curves beckoning to the street, past the Garden and riled cavern court of the Art Museum, the Knight Theater draws her patrons in. Within the bright lantern of the lobby they mingle, and explore her levels and vistas in excited anticipation of the coming performance. This city-owned theater is designed for local art groups such as the North Carolina Dance Company, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, chamber music for the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra and other touring shows. The theater is physically connected and shares a prefunction space with the 35,000 gsf Bechtler Modern Art Museum, which is one of three newly developed museums in this art district, master planned by tvsdesign.
THE VENUE HAS ATTRACTED MANY COMPLIMENTS FROM AUDIENCES, PERFORMERS AND CREW WHO LOVE BEING THERE
DESIGN GOALS, STRATEGY & RESULTS
The Knight Theater responds to several design circumstances. As one of four art venues in the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus, the theater was designed and constructed all at once. To be noticed and appreciated from the street, the building’s lobby is designed as a graceful curving lantern–with a balcony platform that puts theater goers on display, conveying the excitement of performance night to the street. The curves of the lobby and its sparkling stainless-steel skin are in complimentary contrast to the strength and rough textured mass of the striated terra cotta Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, designed by Mario Botta.
The theater is programmed and designed for two very different venues: The Wells Fargo Lecture Auditorium for corporate presentations and meetings, and the theater is suitable for drama, music and dance as well. The theater is targeted to Charlotte’s dance audiences, the primary patrons for the theater. The lobby joins both venues, with daylight and an elegant stair that is the architectural link that reaches the lower level lobby/Wells Fargo Auditorium. The Knight Theater’s concrete interior walls reflect and contain sound, as intended, while its accents of fabric, wood and vertical sconce lighting convey warmth, vitality and make a 1,100-seat house feel intimate. The horseshoe balcony places a warm wooden rail and faces all around embracing the orchestra and performers with the audience’s attention and response. This venue brings a sophisticated yet comfortable interior for the arts, making it the central performance space of the new cultural campus.
The building is sited in a very urban context; it fills its site and is connected to two subterranean parking decks by tunnels below the streets. Part of the design challenge for the Knight Theater was to fit the entire program on the compact site, hence the organization of the building onto three levels, with the auditorium tucked under a sculpture garden shared with the Bechtler. The Knight Theater and the Bechtler Art Museum are “joined at the hip. The fact that two buildings, designed by two different architects, for simultaneous construction are so intertwined is evidence of the cooperation of owners and architects who saw the “bigger picture” of two complimentary venues benefiting one another and the master plan.