Girard Academic Music Program is a prolific magnet high school in downtown Philadelphia. The school accommodates upwards of 500 students. USA was retained to design an addition to the existing facility to be comprised of a new 650-seat theater, gymnasium and school entrance. The expansion was necessary for the school to sustain the performing arts education of the student body.
The theatre is modeled after a roman amphitheater where the audience is placed close to the semi-circular stage. The stage accommodates 400 vocal students and a 75-student orchestra. The orchestra pit is at the same level as the first row of seating but can be extended with a portable stage system to increase the stage size, providing the most flexibility for music and theatrical presentations. The auditorium is arranged in a step-seating configuration and, at approximately mid-level, a mezzanine is introduced. The design of the theater incorporates an outdoor stage in addition to the indoor stage. Three large glass overhead doors have been created with the placement of the addition to separate outdoor performances in the courtyard.
A formal entrance was also designed, as well as a new full service kitchen. The new lobby supports pre-function events as well as a new stair-tower and elevator that provides accessibility to all floors of the existing building and new addition.