Historic Cincinnati high school gets a modern performing arts center Photo courtesy of SHP Leading Design.

Historic Cincinnati high school gets a modern performing arts center

SHP Leading Design recently completed a new performing arts facility at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. The firm, which has offices in both Cincinnati and Columbus, faced a number of challenges in completing the project.

Among the design challenges was that the expansion required integration into the existing school building at three points across four different levels.

The $52 million project adds 77,000 square feet to the campus, modernizing the existing space while preserving its history, and fitting the new building between the school’s football field and its main building, which was built in 1929.

The new performance music spaces were designed to rival college facilities with dimensions, finishes and acoustical treatments designed specifically for each specialized music genre, including orchestra, vocal and band, according to the firm.

Another unique feature of the space is a six-lane, 750,000-gallon competitive swimming pool. Water from the pool is used to heat and cool the LEED Gold certified building. The renovated auditorium incorporates new LED lighting, sprinklers and finishes while respecting the historic nature of the space.

The project required two demolitions, three swing space changes of use and nine overlapping construction phases over four years in order to keep the campus functioning throughout the renovation.

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