LMN Architects Celebrates the Expansion and Construction Progress of the New Buxton Center for Bainbridge Performing Arts
THE PROJECT PRESERVES THE BUILDING’S ORIGINAL TECTONIC IDENTITY AND SCALE WHILE ENHANCING THE CENTER’S CAPACITY TO EXPAND ITS MISSION AND SUPPORT GREATER INCLUSIVITY.
Seattle, Washington – April 10, 2023 – LMN Architects is pleased to celebrate the design and construction progress of The Buxton Center for Bainbridge Performing Arts in Washington. A beloved community theater in Bainbridge Island, the Buxton Center expansion and renovation inaugurates a new era for performers and the arts community on the island.
The new Buxton Center will facilitate a stronger connection to the civic heart of the island by reorienting its entry sequence to the axial plan of Town Square and encouraging more organized circulation to the new entry lobby and vestibule. A wood and glass curtain wall encloses the new two-story lobby space, immersing patrons in the lush woodland landscape below a canopy of towering conifers, and at night, creating a welcoming beacon of activity within. The flexible adjacent studio will serve as a separate performance venue as well as the primary home of the Bainbridge Performing Arts Theatre School program.
Erik Perka, Associate, LMN Architects, comments: “The original theater was a civic treasure for the island and a vital gathering space to celebrate the arts in the local community. Throughout the design of the new building, our main goal was to preserve the intimacy of the theater while strengthening the connections with the public through a more transparent façade and expressive building form. With construction nearing completion, it is exciting for us to imagine all the performances and events that the new building will host in a familiar location.”
A dramatic wave-form roof and ceiling plane of expressed wood structure ties together the new program spaces and gives the building a clear identity. The auditorium has been fully overhauled with a reconfigured seating bowl with sound and light locks, better sightlines, and improved accessibility for all patrons. The redesign of the auditorium also includes new finishes and energy-efficient lighting, along with an overhaul of the support spaces and building systems.
Sustainability and connection to the island’s history and ecology were prioritized during the design process. The project is characterized by natural tones and material choices that celebrate Bainbridge Island’s landscape and architectural history. The lobby ceiling and floors are emphasized with wooden hues and accents, contrasted by blackened steel fixtures while red highlights the auditorium entrances. The center of this new community gathering space will be furnished with a custom-built bar and concessions area, produced by a local woodworker using salvaged timber from the Bloedel Reserve. The second level features a small communal area that overlooks the studio and lobby below. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the Buxton Center will utilize a rooftop solar array, an expanded raingarden, and a more efficient HVAC system.
Mark Tumiski, Principal, LMN Architects, comments: “Located in the heart of the historic Winslow neighborhood, The Buxton Center expansion has been designed to celebrate the woodland setting and enhance a beloved community space. Our stakeholders’ goal was to create a welcoming gathering space likened to a ‘family room’ that would establish a true home for the performing arts on Bainbridge Island. We are thrilled to see how the spaces are starting to feel both intimate and expansive, reaching out into Town Square and the surrounding landscape through the wood and glass lobby. We can’t wait to experience the building full of patrons and brimming with energy on Opening Night.”
The renewed Buxton Center aims to strengthen the public connection within the downtown—creating a cultural and civic campus, including City Hall, Town Square and its weekly farmer’s market, and the Island’s Historical Museum. After the pandemic challenged the very idea of gathering for live performances, the Buxton Center is set to reinvigorate the local arts community and continue enriching the cultural heart of Bainbridge Island. The two-story building broke ground in the fall of 2021 and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2023. Visitors are currently welcome for an inside look at the new Buxton Center as it is being built, and tours of the construction site are available by free registration.
LMN Architects is recipient of the 2016 AIA National Architecture Firm Award and is widely recognized for its design of projects that support smart, sustainable, cities. The firm has designed several important civic and cultural projects in Washington, including Benaroya Hall, McCaw Hall, the Seattle Convention Center Summit Building, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and are currently designing the Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion to be located on the waterfront. The firm’s ongoing dedication to communities at all scales is underscored by its important, iconic work across Washington state and beyond.
Learn more about the project here.