When you build a world-class, Broadway-style theater that is the talk of the town, what do you do for an encore?
Simple – you build one of the most innovative performing arts centers in the world – Hale Centre Theatre.
The newly opened venue, located just a mile or so from Layton’s home office in Sandy, Utah, is destined to become another Layton-built star in the national performing arts scene. It follows on the heels of the elegant Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, the ultra-hip Faena Forum in Miami and the avant-garde Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center.
Even in such rarified company, Hale is a one of a kind. Officially called the Hale Centre Theatre at the Mountain America Performing Arts Centre, the facility includes two theaters comprising 1,361 seats. The Centre Stage Theatre is a theater-in-the-round, with seating for 900. The separate proscenium-thrust Jewel Box Theatre holds 461.
Hale is a big deal in the Utah performing arts scene, bringing high-quality, big-name plays and musicals to the masses. Hale Centre Theatre started in a South Salt Lake lingerie-factory-turned-theater in 1985 and moved to nearby West Valley City in 1998. The popular theater has been running at full capacity for more than a decade and was ready to upsize.
The facility features state-of-the-art sound and lighting, generous backstage areas, dressing rooms, a stunning grand lobby with a large concessions area and administrative offices. But the star of show, as it were, is the articulated stage in the main theater, where the rotating stage gives the entire audience an intimate view of the performance. It also makes set changes easier because the stage is lowered out of sight rather than having to place the sets from a traditional theater fly-loft.
The stage is the first of its kind in innovative stage automation and includes 47 pieces of moving machinery powered by 130 motors. Two overhead crane trolleys with eight hoists are capable of moving 16 individual pieces or performers during a production. The stage itself was designed and installed by TAIT Towers who said there is no live performing arts venue anywhere in the world with as much cutting-edge stage technology.
The 122,300-square-foot theatre includes a below-grade dock and ramp and a landscaped public plaza area adjacent to the theatre.
“ It has been a pleasure to work with Sandy City, Hale Centre Theatre and Layton Construction to design an amazing theater that will be a gem in the community for many, many years.”
Beecher Walker Architects
Construction challenges were intense. In addition to an ambitious deadline, the below-stage space required excavating a pit 50 feet wide and
70 feet below grade in sandy, swampy soil. “The soil does not hold compressive strength,” Layton project manager Jared Adamson said. “We had to put piles down past a layer of sand to get to bedrock. We have to have piles holding the building up and piles to hold it in place.” The cast-in-place building sits on a total of 225 piles, some at depths of more than 70 feet.
One of the architect’s main concerns during the design phase of the project was to design a theatre that didn’t look like a big box. Customary to theatres, there are large fly areas that require tall buildings. Generally, you’ll see a small lobby and a large box behind it for the actual theatre. On Hale, the architects designed a stepping pattern within the elements of the building to gradually step from the lobby area to the very tall fly spaces and theatres. This was done by sloping the metal roofs off of the lobby and then using screen walls to step up to the fly space. Screen walls are also used to hide mechanical equipment that is located on the loading level of the project. By using a stepping design, the building has nice proportions and its taller elevations don’t jump out at you.
Lyle Beecher with Beecher Walker Architects said: “One of our earliest objectives was to create a building that would be a lantern to the community. We achieved this through the large span of glass in the lobby. At night, the theatre has a special glow, which provides light to the community. It has been an honor to work on the Hale Centre Theatre project. The building plays an important role in productions as a supporting cast member. The design of the theater-in-the-round allows the audience to see the emotions on the face of other patrons. This provides a unique experience not only for the cast, but those who attend performances. It has been a pleasure to work with Sandy City, Hale Centre Theatre and Layton Construction to design an amazing theater that will be a gem in the community for many, many years.”
Layton’s Arts Repertoire
Utah Valley University Performing Arts Complex (under construction)
Mesa CC Performing Arts Center
Mesa Arts Center
Snow College George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Performing Arts Center
Brigham Young University Museum of Art
University of Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Utah State University Morgan Theater
Dixie College Dolores Dore Eccles Fine Arts Center
Westminster College Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory
Utah Cultural Celebration Center
LDS Conference Center Theater