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University of Virginia Gets Top Prize for 2021 ASTC-USITT Venue Renovation Challenge Awards

PLSN Staff • News • April 14, 2021

USA – A team from the University of Virginia was awarded the top prize in the 2021 ASTC-USITT Venue Renovation Challenge competition on April 9th, 2021.

More details from ASTC (https://theatreconsultants.org) and USITT (www.usitt.org):

The ASTC Edgar L. Lustig Award of $2,000 was presented to the University of Virginia team during a live YouTube video broadcast for their proposed renovation of the McIntire Amphitheater on the UVA campus. The theoretical project transformed a limited use outdoor amphitheater into a venue that can support a large variety of performing arts events along with additional functional support spaces.

Teams of students from Florida State University, Colorado State University and the University of Virginia participated in the Venue Renovation Challenge competition.

The Florida State University team received the USITT Director’s Award of $1,000 for a project that is unique to FSU, the renovation and upgrade of the FSU “Flying High” Circus audience entry and backstage support facilities.

Colorado State presented a project to renovate and modernize the University Center for the Arts theatre that emphasized broadening the educational and training opportunities available to students while addressing improvements to the practical technical issues of producing in the theatre.

A recording of the live competition presentation can be viewed on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TBlEbwzq_0

The live presentation is the culmination of months of work by the student teams. The process consists of three major phases. First, each team develops and defines a renovation project on their campus and creates a concept statement for the competition. Next, the teams design a written “paper” project with documentation including plans, models, and other materials to illustrate the proposed renovation. Finally, there is an oral presentation of each team’s project. This year, the presentations were shown live in a YouTube session. This was followed by questions from the judges for each team. For each phase, a panel of six ASTC members act as judges to evaluate the materials and offer advice to the teams.

The judges noted the competition was extremely close between all three projects, with the diversity of the project types making the selection of a winner particularly difficult. The judges awarded the prizes after the final project presentations.

The teams were entirely made up of students, each with a faculty sponsor and an ASTC professional as a mentor.
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The University of Virginia Team: Oliver Church, Catherine Henebery, Jackson Key, Caitlin Kreinheder, Tim Victorio. Faculty sponsor: Steven Warner. ASTC mentor: Kimberly Corbett Oates

The Colorado State University Team: Morgan Lessman, Lili Federico, Lauren Boesch, Lorna Stephens, Lukas White. Faculty sponsor: Matt Grevan. ASTC mentor: Millie Dixon

The Florida State University Team: Elliot Mahoney, Mike Delaney, Emily Chancellor, Wesley Seiderman, Raistlin Yovan, Hannah Smith, Nathaniel Feit. Faculty sponsor: Jim Lile. ASTC mentor: Christopher Sprague.

Each school’s team had a distinctive take on the video presentations. The University of Virginia team made extensive use of ground plans and model fly-throughs to show the dynamic changes they envisioned to the classic style semi-circular amphitheater, including re-raking the audience area near the front of the stage and adding overhead structures over the stage and in the house to provide protection from the weather and for technical equipment. The Florida State University team was able to show photos of existing problematic conditions for the “Flying High” Circus tent and after discussions with the users proposed improvements through renderings and plans including details of technical equipment with the goal of increasing efficiency and safety. The Colorado State University team’s video provided an extensive guided tour of the facility and support spaces while pointing out the areas to be renovated and the practical problems of the current spaces.

The event was hosted by Van Phillips of ASTC and David Grindle of USITT. The goal of the ASTC-USITT Venue Renovation Challenge is for students to gain experience with performance venue design and renovation as well as alternate career opportunities though an interactive process with a professional theatre consultant. The ASTC-USITT Venue Renovation Challenge will next occur in 2023, with application materials available in mid-2022. Full details of the event can be found: https://theatreconsultants.org/the-winners-of-the-astc-usitt-challenge-2021-are/

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