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Architect Brian Junge hardly could have asked for a better reaction when his design for the downtown Capitol Theatre/Ballet West cooperative venture was unveiled to the Salt Lake County Council.
"It's so outstanding. This will be fabulous," gushed County Councilman Randy Horiuchi, adding "the county has had a bad reputation for architecture. Between Viridian [Event Center and library in West Jordan] and this, it turns that around."
What particularly impressed Horiuchi on Tuesday was a metal panel that wraps around the front and west sides of the glassy, five-story Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance, future home to Ballet West and its dance academy.
"Unlike many buildings, it doesn't sit static," said Junge, design director for HKS Architects. "The metal panels have a lighting system behind them so if there's a new event, or if, say, 'Wicked' comes to town, the lighting will change continuously. The lights can turn the building green or red."
To Horiuchi, "the illuminated side paneling is unbelievable."
For Shari Quinney, chairwoman of Ballet West's campaign to raise money for the project, the design "makes me very proud. My grandmother's name is on it, so it has to be really good."
Ballet West and the county are teaming up on a $33.4 million undertaking to renovate the historic Capitol Theatre and to build the Center for Dance immediately west of it.
The facilities will be connected at 14 points on multiple floors, by elevators as well as staircases, helping the Capitol Theatre to comply with access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
They also will be linked by an open lobby, twice the size of the cramped quarters in the existing theater, and lighted by additional ornamental chandeliers. The conjoined operation will have refreshment stands at two levels and more than double the theater's restroom capacity, said Phil Jordan, director of the county's Center for the Arts.
Junge's design also provides a lane north of the building for dance academy students to be dropped off and picked up, a necessity given plans to increase the number of dancers (up to perhaps 600) who receive training.
Fifth-floor windows will offer street-level views of those dancers going through their paces, Jordan said. Another feature being rounded into shape is a rooftop terrace that could be rented out.
With the design in place, a November groundbreaking is expected. Phase one of Capitol Theatre renovations is projected to begin in June, after "Jersey Boys" closes, and to wrap up 140 days later when "The Nutracker" opens Dec. 1, 2013.
Jordan said this schedule should make the project eligible to receive $6 million in new market tax credits, critical funding to supplement equal matches of $13.4 million by the county and Ballet West.
He also hopes to secure another $2 million in federal historic tax credits to complete the financial package.