Steamboat Springs Music lovers attending Strings in the Mountains concerts could find themselves seated inside a "stringed instrument" in the not-too-distant future.
Strings has entered the city planning process seeking approval for a new pavilion structure that would replace the longstanding performing arts tent. The new building would feature a functional design element called a bowstring truss. In addition to supporting the roof of the pavilion, it would evoke the bridge that supports the strings of instruments such as a cello.
"That's the most exciting thing," Strings President Kay Clagett said. "I think (the design team) has done a fabulous job of combining a Western feeling with a contemporary design. It's going to be a spectacular building."
The construction timetable is uncertain as Strings continues with the capital campaign needed to fund the estimated cost of $3 million.
"We're a good ways along, but we don't know the answer to the question," of when construction will begin, Clagett said. "This has always been in our scope and we're focused on a very doable next stage. Whether it's late this summer, or the end of next summer or the summer after that, we don't know."
If Clagett's organization can reach its funding goal by 2008, Strings has a chance to observe its 20th birthday in the new pavilion.
The new pavilion would not expand Strings' seating capacity of 550. Clagett and Executive Director Betse Grassby have said they would avoid any change to the facility that would undermine the intimacy audience members and musicians enjoy in the tent. They believe that intimacy is a key ingredient in the festival's success.
The roof of the new pavilion would differ from the peaked dome of the existing tent. It would be slightly taller and the form of the roof would be created by a pair of long, stem-to-stern trusses matched with four tensioned steel cables.
Strings is working with architect Bill Rangitsch of Steamboat Architectural Associates. Beck Building of Avon is performing pre-construction services. Both firms have donated their services to this point, Clagett said.
A company called Spearhead Timberworks of British Columbia is being consulted about the possibility of building pre-fabricated panels that would be delivered to the site. The panels would help Strings overcome the challenge of completing the new structure in a narrow construction season that wouldn't disrupt the summer concert schedule.
Clagett describes the new pavilion project as a remodel of the existing facility - although the tent will go away, the pavilion with 13 to 14 banks of large windows and sliding glass doors, would be built on the existing concrete foundation and pad that affords banks of elevated seating.
Speaking of the next stage, Clagett said one of the greatest benefits of the remodel would be to add depth to the performing stage within the existing footprint of the tent.
"It will catapult this organization. The tent has been wonderful for Strings since 1992," she said. "But our stage is small and limiting. The lighting is very close to the musicians. The acoustics in the tent are quite good, but not great."
Realizing the next stage in the festival's facilities would also provide a means to reach out to more accomplished artists, Clagett predicted.
The benefits to be gained from the new pavilion are more than aesthetic. Clagett said a more permanent structure would allow the festival to regulate the climate and comfort of the auditorium, including the installation of air conditioning. More urgently, the condition of the tent has been deteriorating since Strings moved to its current site in 2004 and began leaving it up all year round. The new roof would be better engineered to handle the snow load. The tent has developed leaks and drainage issues.
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