Members of the Auditorium Committee met with Marinace Architects to discuss early plans for a proposed auditorium to be situated adjacent but not connected to the high school.
Auditorium Committee Chairman Tony DeFrancesco said architects Frank and Paul Marinace were presenting possibilities on the auditorium for the committee to review.
“Up until now we’ve had line drawings to look at,” DeFrancesco said of last week’s meeting.
Paul Marinace described what an auditorium needs as far as seating, whether on a slope or on stepped risers.
He said the proposed auditorium would be in front of the high school, situated diagonally in the space between the road used by the school buses and Mammoth Road.
Frank Marinace said decisions were needed on the shape and scope of the auditorium.
“We already have test boring that have been done, but we haven’t received the report yet,” he said.
Paul Marinace presented three renderings for the committee’s review. One showed an auditorium of 43,000 square feet, and ample stagecraft room, drama classroom, music storage space and boys’ and girl’s dressing rooms, costume storage and corridors leading backstage and another to the lobby. The second rendering showed the same auditorium with much of the above removed and a sixe of 34,300 square feet. The smallest design was 29,300 square feet.
“The previous plan presented in 2006 cannot be used because it had a road between the auditorium and Mammoth Road, and the (Department of Transportation) said there wouldn’t be enough room to accommodate the traffic stacking, so the roadway has to stay between the school and the auditorium,” Paul Marinace said.
“There’s a lot of geometry involved,” Paul Marinace set of indoor sightlines. “People can only see what’s happening onstage a certain distance away from the stage, so you have a limited distance to work with,” he explained. “You have to get a certain number of people into a relatively short distance, especially as the auditorium gets bigger and bigger.”
Marinace said people in the front of the cross aisle would have six-inch risers but as the seats slope up higher in the back, the risers would have to be 12 inches.
Committee member Mary Wing Soares asked whether the seats would be directly behind each other or staggered.
“They are staggered somewhat but they can’t control that 100 percent because the outside seats have to all align at the ends, so there are different sized seats within the row. You want to see over the person as much as between,” Marinace said.
Committee member Elizabeth Juster asked if handicapped seating would be in the main cross aisle and Marinace said some would but there would be two locations for handicapped seating.
“In the back it would be easy to get to because you need an elevator to get to the light booth anyway,” Marinace said.
Committee member Pollyann Winslow said the population was getting older and asked if seniors would have trouble negotiating steps.
“There are railings and the elevator at the back,” Marinace responded.
“I just want to make sure when we go to sell it to the community that no one says senior citizens don’t do steps,” Winslow said. “I just think of the trend that more and more people are aging and staying active and going places.”
Marinace said there was no perfect solution. “It’s about weighing this against that, especially when you’re talking about a multi-purpose auditorium,” he said. “If it was just Shakespearian plays that’s one thing, but concerts and plays need different things and there are trade-offs.”
Marinace displayed a design of an orchestra pit tucked under the stage. “But if you want a pit that’s in front of the stage, then it doesn’t have to be as deep,” he said. “You also want the conductor to be able to see the performance on the stage so the conductor can keep up with the action.”
DeFrancesco said the next scheduled meeting was Tuesday, May 13, in the Moose Hill Conference Room at Town Hall. He said he wants the committee to look at the designs and see which is more feasible, and to talk to contractors about cost for each of the designs before any decisions could be made.