Xavier Auditorium at Johnson & Wales University
Xavier Academy Hall was originally built decades ago as a Catholic school on a site bordered by an industrial district and a university campus. Johnson & Wales University, the current owner, sought to revitalize the space, which was used minimally due to its existing condition. The University asked Lerner Ladds + Bartels to renovate the auditorium space in order to create a 500+ seating venue for university functions and gatherings, as well as a legitimate theater for student use. LLB redesigned the Hall’s exterior with a swooping ribbed metal awning evoking the bordering industrial area, with dramatic uplighting suggesting theatrical spotlights. The new lighting scheme also encourages evening activity, and redefines the building and auditorium as a focal point on campus.
The interior theater space received a full renovation, with the rake of the auditorium and balcony adjusted and seating layout reconfigured to ensure that each of the 553 seats has a good view of the stage. Paying close attention to acoustics, LLB designed a series of panels and screens to flank the stage, reflecting sound into the audience while concealing speakers and lighting and effectively expanding the proscenium enclosure to embrace the extended stage. Other features include a new state-of-the-art A/V system with distance-learning capabilities, a new HVAC system, increased ADA accessibility, and a new set of lavatories, making the theater a self-sufficient entity in the evening.
Photography by Warren Jagger Photography