Rubenstein Arts Center
Durham, N.C.
Award of Merit

Owner: Duke University
Lead Design Firm: William Rawn Associates, Architects Inc.
General Contractor: Skanska USA
Civil Engineer: Stewart Inc.
Structural Engineer: Lemessurier
MEP Engineer: Mueller Associates
Theater Consultant: Theatre Projects Consultants (TPC)
Seating: Jezet Seating

The Rubenstein Arts Center, a creative hub for interdisciplinary learning and innovation at Duke University, aims to be “a place that is all about the creative arts in the broadest and most expansive sense … where dancers are collaborating with engineers and anthropologists, actors creating with musicians, and documentary film makers interacting with humanists.” The center contains 10 flexible multipurpose studios, seminar classrooms, an arts-focused laboratory, dance studios and the student-run radio station. The centerpieces of the arts center are its two theaters: a 150-seat, Shakespearean-style studio theater that features flexible space and a 100-seat, soundproof film theater.

Within the 70,000-sq-ft building, a wide range of music, film, theater or dance can be taking place at any time. As a result, the design and construction teams were challenged with acoustically isolating every one of the arts center’s 19 specialty rooms. From the foundation and frame of the building through the installation of MEP, the acoustics of the building concerned every trade. Specialty contractors communicated constantly with acoustic consultants to ensure that their scopes of work met precise specifications. The facility’s studios feature a telescopic floor system mechanism capable of being flush with the wall or folding out into a 100-seat area via remote control. Skanska brought in Belgian firm Jezet Seating to ensure that the systems functioned flawlessly and adhered to the building’s acoustic standards.