HSPVA is one of the top-ranked performing arts schools in the country, whose mission is to provide a balanced program of challenging academics and rigorous training in the arts. The school focuses on six art areas: vocal music, instrumental music, dance, theatre, visual art, and creative writing.
HSPVA was originally built in 1971 and had experienced piecemeal renovations as the school aged. It was bursting at the seams with more students across the country interested in attending. After an extensive search for a new facility, school administration decided to open a new location in downtown Houston and design a building to meet the growing needs of the school.
The $88 million project would ultimately feature specialized performance and fine arts spaces to enhance the artistic environment of the school. Architects created a five-story, 168,000-square-foot building featuring a dramatic front entrance with double-high glass windows and a wide stairwell, 800-seat main theater with a balcony, dance and music studios, 150-seat recital hall, 200-seat theater, 190-seat black box theater, rehearsal rooms, modern outdoor dining area, two levels of underground parking and an outdoor roof terrace.
The beautiful exterior needed to be matched with first-class music education equipment on the inside.
Band, Orchestra, and Vocal Rehearsal Spaces
For any student practicing their instrument, keeping environmental noise out is critical. A sound isolation practice room can help them fine-tune their performance and concentrate on their craft.
Administration opted for Wenger’s SoundLok® Practice Rooms with superior sound isolation. Each room is 25 percent quieter than any other practice room available. Built-in absorption and diffusion enables the musician to clearly hear the best possible sound. The rooms also have built-in virtual acoustic environment (VAE®) technology, allowing the musician to learn how to adapt to performing in different performance spaces and get immediate feedback with record/playback during the practice session.
“Our students are really enjoying the new practice rooms and experimenting with the virtual acoustics,” Orchestra Director Dr. Brad Smith says. “We also like the fact that there are glass doors on them so we can see what’s going on and potentially help them if they need assistance.”
To round out the first-rate equipment, music administrators also chose the company’s durable stands and chairs to serve a variety of performance needs. They opted for cabinets that keep instruments well organized when not in use, and a portable stage and riser system to prepare them for any number of rehearsal situations.
“I am most excited about the shelving and the music library in the new space,” Dr. Smith says. “Being able to organize all of our instruments, sheet music and other items means I can devote more time to the students, rather than searching for miscellaneous items.”
The heart and soul of the building is the 800-seat Denney Theatre, which is utilized for a variety of performance types ranging from orchestra and choral to dance, theatre, and lectures. To enhance the sound quality and ability to cater to these performers, teams installed a new custom acoustical shell, a motion control system, rigging systems and hoists and lightweight choral risers that can easily be set up or stored as needed.
“Students are getting great experience working with this cutting-edge equipment,” explains Costume Design Manager Paul Davis. “The students are very pleased with the new equipment,” says Choral Director Pat Bonner. “This is advanced equipment that they haven’t seen in other schools.”
She says it’s also a treat for the staff to have a superior shell and risers after years of making due with inferior equipment.
“We have worked so hard for so long that we have earned the right to be proud of this lovely theatre, which is the jewel of our campus,” Bonner says. “Audiences that come will enjoy it just as much as we do.”
Black Box Theatre
One of the main benefits of a Black Box Theatre is its versatility. The simplicity of the space is used to create a flexible stage and audience interaction. The use of staging and lighting in Black Box Theatres can range from extremely minimal to very elaborate, depending on the performance.
Portable audience seating and risers included in this space provided flexible configurations for the theatre’s many needs. They’re lightweight, strong, and easy and quick to set up or move.
Time to Shine
With all of the new equipment successfully installed, it was time for the school to open its doors. Everybody raved.
“HSPVA is now able to provide the best music education for our students, and to prepare them to be the best musicians they can be in the future with his new facility,” Dr. Smith says. “Our students and faculty now have access to practice and performance facilities that are some of the best in the industry. Very few high school students around the nation have access to this type of space.”
The equipment in the new facility is providing students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to improve their performances, continuing the school’s long-standing tradition and nationwide acknowledgement of excellence.
“Kinder HSPVA is truly a school like no other,” says Principal Scott Allen. “As I walk the hallways of the school and observe students studying and participating in the creative arts, I realize how fortunate they are to have a fine arts campus to attend in the Houston Independent School District.”