We want to create a place a strong common ground where friends, family, artists, musicians, and all the residents of Henderson County can experience the energy of the performing and visual arts. Our proposal establishes an autonomous cityscape for the arts community within a single block in Hendersonville – complete with theaters, secluded arbor ways, a series of roof gardens, and an animated streetscape of retail, workshops, classrooms, and gallery spaces, all of which frame a grand, landscaped outdoor amphitheater.
We approached our design of the Mill Center as an unraveling double membrane an architectural metaphor for the transformation of the city from something opaque and dense to something lighter and translucent, revealing the deeper opportunities found in a culturally invested city. We hope that this shedding imagery stimulates further investigation into the spaces and activities found just off the street.
The main performance hall – a large prominent building in the low warehouse district south of Main Street – has inner and outer skins that conceal a hidden shell. This shell shapes the acoustics of the hall while the outer skins unravel toward the sky, revealing a spiral-like series of luminous ramps, balconies, stairs, and lounges. From these open spaces, theatergoers can view the city, the mountains, Jefferson Park, and the verdant public amphitheater that rises from the central stage below. When desirable, huge doors open the stage to the outdoor amphitheater so that performances can be enjoyed under the stars, as well as from within the theater itself. When the doors are closed, performances can be projected simultaneously onto the theaters faade, allowing anyone to bring a picnic, sit on the grass of our landscaped amphitheater, and enjoy the gifts of this vital arts community.
We believe that streets and sidewalks energize a city, so we deliberately occupied the entire perimeter of the block with inviting storefronts, generous entrances, and a wide, welcoming promenade off the Oklawaha Greenway that leads into our central public space. By doing so, the cultural and artistic opportunities of the Mill Center can be discovered through casual street encounters. It is our hope that this urban strategy will stimulate adjacent development on the blocks surrounding the Center, and continue to contribute to the rejuvenation of Hendersonville and Henderson County.
Hidden arbor ways and parks are also tucked into the nooks and corners for more intimate encounters between the musicians, students, visitors, and artists. A childrens museum further contributes to an intergenerational dynamic by enlivening Fifth Street while providing direct access to our elevated park.