Kirkwood Takes Center Stage
The Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, outside of St. Louis, scheduled for opening at the start of next theatre season, will be a community asset and cultural hub, as well as the anchor for a new downtown Arts & Entertainment District.
As part of a multi-phase renovation and re-branding for the existing Kirkwood Community Center, the existing Reim Theatre is being relocated to a downtown location. The facility will serve to anchor a planned Arts & Entertainment district to complement a thriving restaurant and shopping strip along Kirkwood Road, the city’s ‘main street’, which also features a children’s museum, a farmers’ market and an historic train station. The Robert G. Reim Theatre is a renowned regional draw and already home to nationally renowned theatre company Stages, as well as the Kirkwood Theatre Guild. Both companies are responsible for superior quality productions and offer a fertile testing ground for new theatre, such as Stages’ production of ‘Fun Home’, which went on to Broadway and was premiated in 2015 with five Tony awards.
The $25 million facility totals 38,000 square feet and is comprised of a 525-seat, state-of-the-art, two-level, traditional proscenium theatre and performance support spaces; a 3,000-square-foot Black Box performance theatre; a 2,000-square-foot Events Space; and a two-story atrium lobby that will serve as the face of community events. The main theatre is designed as an intimate space with the inclusion of a balcony and stage extensions to ensure proximity to the stage for theatregoers. One of the most exciting features of the project is the Black Box, which can vary in size to create a flexible stage and varied audience interaction opportunities. The Black Box is intentionally a stripped-down, intimate performance space where more experimental performance and staging can be explored, with the most human and least technical elements in focus. The Lobby and Events Space work in tandem to provide the City with unique community spaces for receptions, pre-function, special events and lease opportunities.
The bold contemporary design marks a new direction from civic leaders to bring a new attitude to a traditional, historic downtown and foster a new forward-looking identity for the community. Its role as a key component of an inherently walkable commercial district is certain to spur other growth through elements like a proposed boutique hotel, art galleries, dining and shopping, and new cultural attractions and events.
“The Arts District is being positioned as a cultural hub for arts & culture organizations, creative entrepreneurs and businesses in Kirkwood, St. Louis, and the region. This transformational project will create a vibrant epicenter of action in Kirkwood and its surrounding area for locals and visitors to engage in a unique combination of dining, shopping and the arts,” said Jacobs Design Principal, Anselmo Testa, AIA. “Our goal was to design a facility that embodies the Kirkwood’s aspirations for the future, bolsters and expands on a robust community experience, and generates excitement for younger generations to lay down roots and establish themselves within the community.”
The new Kirkwood Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020, at the start of the theatre season.