Our Work

Isidore Newman Performing Arts Center

Woodward returns as design-build partner on this uptown campus to deliver an acoustical performance venue.

Prominently located on Jefferson Avenue, the new 8,500 square foot, Joy and Boysie Bollinger Performing Arts Building will enliven its centrally located site, while giving Newman’s performing arts program a new identity on campus. The project was conceived to accommodate the school’s long neglected music program, which currently practices in the school’s original gymnasium, and to ensure a home to nurture the growth of current students as well as to attract future students and faculty.

The new facility is nestled between one of the campus’ original structures, the Jefferson Building, and the Robinson House—the home for Newman’s Head of School. As such, the design team made great consideration to the exterior design so that it fits harmoniously with its surroundings. The façade pulls from the 3-part organization of the Jefferson Building in a subtle contemporary expression, so as to complement and not compete with the historic structure. The glazed façade stitches together the varying levels of both buildings, and highlights the juxtaposition of the old and new, while filling the building with an abundance of natural light.

The new facility provides the school with two rehearsal halls, practice rooms and music support spaces. Due to the constricted site, these program elements were organized into a compact configuration setback from the adjacent buildings to create a multi-story gallery surround. In addition to the façade, three large skylights provide natural light to the now obstructed classrooms and optimize viewing conditions for the students’ artwork to be displayed throughout.

Inspired by Ernst Chladni’s sound visualization studies as well as sonic geometries, the design team modeled a reflector design that is unique to each rehearsal hall’s acoustic needs. Drawing from the warmth of sound, both rehearsal halls utilize rich wood tones on both the overhead reflector array and the surrounding wall panels, providing the spaces with an environment conducive to music expression and acoustical performance.

Innovative Programs for Quality Control

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Systems
Early design coordination meetings with the architects, owner, construction team and key subcontractors were critical to upholding quality control. Woodward’s construction team was able to attend design reviews alongside MEP subcontractors to provide valuable input on constructability and logistics.

As part of Woodward’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) capabilities, we use Autodesk Revit and Navisworks for Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. We rely on these three-dimensional models to help fully envision the finished product as well as identify potential issues and solutions during the preconstruction phase and continuing through construction. Woodward’s in-house BIM Coordinator Grace Rumbley managed the building model and conducted clash detection with heavy input from our MEP subs and key trade partners.

Acoustical Performance
In order to provide a best-in-class facility for Newman the Architecture team worked closely with the Acoustician, Bai, to tailor the acoustics of each rehearsal hall. In order to isolate these rooms from the remainder of the building, the team utilized “box within a box” construction. Each room consists of a CMU enclosure, within that enclosure stud walls are framed and isolated from the CMU utilizing acoustic clips. Each room was then “capped” with a sound isolation ceiling, consisting of 2 layers of drywall and framing hung from the building structure with spring isolators.

In the choral rehearsal hall, perforated wooden panels from RPG acoustics surround the users. The patterned perforations create visual intrigue and warmth, while being acoustically transparent allowing sound to flow through and beyond to the absorptive insulation. The upper walls are intricately shaped to provide reflective surfaces for optimal acoustic performance.

The instrument rehearsal hall utilizes a prefabricated grille assembly from Rulon and maintains the same acoustic transparency to allow the sound through to the hidden absorptive insulation. In this room however, the upper walls contain fabric wrapped acoustic panels dispersed evenly throughout to further dampen the intense sound generated from the school’s band. Both spaces are finished out with a wood reflector assembly that was randomly generated through computer software.

In order to ensure quality, the team engaged key subcontractors early in design to ensure the intricate acoustical details were coordinated for both performance and constructability. Additionally, the team made regular site visits to ensure installation followed those initial efforts.

During the construction phase, Sr. Superintendent Wayne Middleton enforced quality control standards in the field with a thorough documentation and reporting process. Wayne was able to ensure the quality and aesthetics were up to the owner’s standards. Through he and the team’s careful quality control measures on site, we delivered this project without any change orders.

Innovative Programs for Schedule

Our team utilized Lean schedule practices and the Last Planner System for schedule management. This collaborative approach includes all individuals that are directly responsible for supervising the work your project, from subcontractors to vendors and field supervision. This scheduling process includes participation from design professionals and trade foremen where individuals commit to their completion dates and identify the prerequisites needed to complete this work efficiently. Using this system allowed us to make real-time adjustments, respond to changes, and distribute an accurate schedule for Newman and our trade partners to depend on. This Lean approach drives efficiency and allowed us to communicate accurate dates for coordination with the client.

Value Analysis / Engineering

This project was originally designed in 2018, after Newman identified the need for a dedicated performing arts space on campus. When we completed the early conceptual designs, this building was intended to be a much larger facility with a second story and additional spaces including a black box theater. At the time of conceptual design, the client did not have any budgetary restrictions. however, this project was primarily funded by individual donors and capital giving. After the fundraising phase was over, Newman realized that their budget wouldn’t allow for the full scope of design. Our architects worked closely with their team to redesign and refine scope so that the building would work within their budget. We were able to reduce the scope to a single story building by reimagining certain spaces to become multi-functional.

Special Obstacles

Unique Structural Design
The Joy and Boysie Bollinger Performing Arts Building ties into two existing buildings on campus, which posed a few unique challenges for our structural designers and construction teams. An exterior wall on the historic Jefferson Building became an interior wall for this facility. To accommodate this, we removed the soffit area and painted the brick a warm white to match the new facility’s aesthetic. Existing windows and exterior details were incorporated into the new design. Additionally, our structural team had to design the foundation for the new building to tie into the existing adjacent structures. Since we couldn’t interfere with the structure of the existing buildings within three feet, we had to cantilever the foundation on the new facility to support the combined load at the building’s perimeter.

Working on an Operating Campus
Working on an active school campus requires a laser focus on safety from the construction team. Our team went to great lengths to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and visitors. We kept the site secured and separated from outside personnel with both chain-link fencing and temporary wood fencing surrounding the site.

Project Information




Isidore Newman School




August 2022