St. Paul Academy and Summit School Huss Center for the Performing Arts

St. Paul, MN

The Huss Center, a vibrant new home for the Performing Arts on Saint Paul Academy’s campus, includes a 650-seat Performance Hall, a 180-seat Multipurpose Space and an Arts Commons that acts as both lobby and student gathering space. The project’s simple and economical precast concrete construction is animated by three undulating elements: a dynamic perforated metal façade on the exterior, a colorful ceiling system within the public space interiors, and a layered scrim wall within the Performance Hall.

Precast was selected by HGA Architects and Engineers because the Huss Center for the Performing Arts “could be constructed faster and enclosed quicker,” said HGA architect Daniel Yudchitz. “We were trying to give the client the most for the least amount of cost, and the precast allowed us to do that.”

474 pieces, 72,618 sq. ft, of precast concrete was used on this project. The building had a few challenges to overcome due to its location and the fact the campus has had very different additions over the decades. HGA decided to place the auditorium, which is taller than the rest of the structure, in the middle to avoid having it tower over a residential street or the campus.

Surrounding the theater are dressing rooms, hallways, a large multipurpose room and a lobby. The Huss Center features a dark brick façade that incorporates many large windows. The main entrance on South Wheeler Street showcases sections of perforated white metal screens that cover red painted concrete, adding contrast and visual flair. The addition’s colors and materials are meant to connect to existing building, he said.

An outdoor patio with gardens serves as a buffer between the parking lot and theater as well as a place where kids and arts patrons can congregate. Inside, the lobby area offers a place for students to collaborate on projects or wait for buses – or parents — to pick them up after school.

Project cost: $20 million
Project size: 36,600 square feet