Klopfenstein Amphitheater

Submitted by RDG Dahlquist Art Studio

0

Client: City of Marion, Iowa

Location: Marion, IA, United States

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $733,500

Project Team

Artist

Donald G. Scandrett

RDG Dahlquist Art Studio

Architect

Reinaldo Correa

RDG Planning & Design

Other

Emlyn Altman, Lighting Designer

RDG Planning & Design

Other

Brad Stork, Structural Engineer

Charles Saul Engineering, Inc

Other

Mike Carol

City of Marion, Iowa

Other

Mike Chambers, Electrical Engineer

RDG Planning & Design

Landscape Architect

Mike Bell

RDG Planning & Design

Other

Mark Conway, Mechanical Engineer

RDG Planning & Design

Other

John Huk, General Contractor

Kleiman Construction, Inc.

Other

Brock Steinke, Lighting

Trey Electric

Other

Kyle Keifer

Keystone Glass Company

Overview

The Klopfenstein Amphitheater for the Performing Arts located in Marion, Iowa is a dramatic synthesis of art and architecture, sensitively designed in context with the adjacent Arts and Environment Center, integrated within the surrounding natural landscape of Lowe Park. The amphitheater has become a new regional cultural landmark. The comprehensive installation combines many sculptural materials and processes in the monumental structure. The amphitheater measures over 90ft x 60ft x 30ft within an informal bowl, or open lawn, able to accommodate up to 1500 people.

Goals

The goal of the project was to create a dynamic sculptural icon that would become a destination, attracting visitors to the park. The unique performance venue functions in many ways. The dynamic cantilever, anchored in bedrock over 30 feet deep, extends over 60 feet in length, reaching out to create a powerful perspective for the audience. Based on indigenous bur oaks, the monumental sculptural canopy represents a contemporary expression of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, recalling period Tiffany ornamentation and Dirk Van Erp copper lamps. Made of over 60 tons of Corten weathering steel, the amphitheater also incorporates state-of-the-art LED lighting, native limestone, and Italian mosaic glass tile. The tile frieze that wraps the stage depicts a “prairie fire” of complimentary color and texture. A curtain wall of glass forms the stage backdrop, reflecting sound and providing excellent acoustics. Images of prairie grass are highlighted by color changing LED illumination. The multi-purpose space is host to plays, individual musicians to big-bands, as well as educational programming and weddings, bathed in the warm amber light of the canopy at night.

Process

A meaningful collaboration took place between the community and many professional disciplines including: artists, architects, landscape architects, lighting designers, engineers, and fabricators. The project began with public input, establishing a dialogue about nature, the park, the integration of art, and the design of a functional performance space. The stage and canopy had to create a striking vertical presence, able to be seen from the approaching highway. Through a design-build process, the multi-disciplinary team worked with the owner to interview and select the best steel fabricator to assist in design from the earliest concept through fabrication and installation. Scale was a significant factor for the artwork. The size of the structure called for an incredible “back and forth” between all disciplines to realize the dynamic sculptural intensity. A unique system between footing/foundation, bolt plates, and welds to 1 ½ inch thick Corten plate steel was developed. A scale model of steel was placed on top of CNC-routed wood that represented the topography of the landscape. The model was photographed from a variety of perspectives in order to understand the consequences of scale in context with the surrounding natural environment. Artist and architects through RDG Dahlquist Art Studio facilitated the process.

Additional Information

The amphitheater has become part of the identity of the community. If use is a measurement of success, the venue is now booked for weddings, musical performances, festivals, and other functions nearly a year in advance.