City of Sandy Springs sets the stage creating community nucleus for the arts.
Two years ago, the junction of Roswell Road, Johnson Ferry Road, Mt Vernon Highway and Sandy Springs Circle in Sandy Springs, Ga. was a non-descript parking lot, dotted with box retailers cycling in and out. Today, the seats are installed inside the main performance theatre of City Springs, bringing to life the City’s vision for a central gathering place, creating a sense of place desired by the community.
“Roswell Road, the main artery in Sandy Springs, has long been the place people escape from,” said Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul. “To misquote a Joni Mitchell tune, we’ve pulled up the parking lot and are putting in paradise.”
“Paradise” is City Springs, a 14-acre mixed-use development, envisioned by the City as a walkable gathering place complete with green space, residential, retail and office use. The crowning jewel is a 1,070-seat performance arts theatre, recently named the Byers Theatre following a generous $2.5 million philanthropic gift from Ken Byers, Chairman of Byers Engineering Company, and his wife, Trish. The theatre combines a good seat count with the close proximity to the stage allowing for an intimate theatre experience. Audiences will be made to feel a part of the action, not experiencing a “wall” between them and the performers. A wrap-around seating design also creates a sense of engagement for theatre patrons, a resounding theme throughout the entire City Springs development and surrounding district.
“We want City Springs to be everyone’s neighborhood; a place that feels accessible and inviting. Whether you’re enjoying an outdoor activity on the four-acre park or attending a performance within the theatre, we want you to feel at home. Our main theatre and studio theatre are designed to create intimacy while maintaining flexibility to host a wide variety of programming,” adds Paul.
Reminiscent of the size of many New York theatres, Byers Theatre can boast that there will be “no bad seat in the house.” But unlike New York theatres, Byers Theatre will offer a 6,100 square-foot glass-enclosed lobby that can enhance the theatre experience and provide for additional programming.
While Shakespeare is credited with saying, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” the Byers Theatre stage and surrounding elements feature the best practices in theatres to date. Providing versatility to house a variety of live performances, the orchestra pit can be used three different ways: it can accommodate a pit orchestra, it can be raised to provide additional seating, or the added platform can be used to extend the stage. Additionally, the Performing Arts Center offers a remote orchestra option for performances that require a larger orchestra than would fit in the pit, or if the show needed the additional seating. In the instance of using the remote orchestra option, the musicians would be set up in a space beneath the stage, and the conductor would utilize cameras to follow the action on the stage to cue the musicians.
The main theatre is designed for symphonic and amplified performances. Similar versatility can be found in the adjacent 5,000 square-foot Studio Theatre. Predicted to be one of the most utilized spaces in the new complex, the Studio Theatre can accommodate 350 people providing ample space for both theatrical performances and corporate meetings and events, then transforming into a venue set up banquet-style, or performance style that’s perfect for smaller productions. Imagine it as a great 300-seat jazz room!