New performing arts facility springs up in Keystone |

New performing arts facility springs up in Keystone

This winter, Keystone’s River Run Village will host community and cultural events, such as concerts, movies and comedy in its new year-round performing arts facility.

Construction crews began installing the structure about seven weeks ago, just before Keystone closed for skiing. It’s scheduled for a soft opening at the end of July or beginning of August.

The building, named Warren Station, replaces the pavilion tent and acts as a “temporary permanent” solution to Keystone Neighbourhood Company’s (KNC) mission to build a permanent facility to create an entertaining four-season community, said Josh Blanchard, events manager.

During the 2002-03 season, KNC, a nonprofit organization, (which exists independently of Keystone Resort) surveyed its homeowners to find out how they wanted to enrich the community. The majority voted for a facility that could house performing and cultural arts, said Tim Baker, KNC executive director.

They have been planning a state-of-the-art permanent facility for years but took a step back when the economy crashed.

“But we didn’t want to lose the momentum that developed,” Baker said.

The solution: a sprung membrane building, with aluminum ribs.

Generally speaking, most membrane building systems are used for operations; for example, one in Keystone houses skier services. The county provides temporary permits for the structures; in this case, a 14-year license.

Since the Pavilion at Keystone’s canvas had reached the end of its life, KNC had to make a decision: Should it spend $150,000 to $200,000 to give the pavilion, purchased in 2002 from the Salt Lake Olympics, a complete face-lift, including new carpet, doors and windows? If so, the organization would still have the same problem: no year-round facility providing bathrooms and efficient heat. So Blanchard and crew started researching the compromise: membrane building systems.

When they did, they discovered golf courses and churches had designed these membrane systems with high-end interiors, including drywall, carpet and technologically advanced sound and lighting systems. Additionally, the structures provide 8 inches of insulation, allowing for an efficient heating and forced air system.

“We were really impressed,” Blanchard said. “Then we got pretty excited about what we could do.”

“It provides the exact same use and interior finishes that a permanent (facility does), but it gives us the opportunity to do it now,” Baker said. Warren Station will include indoor bathrooms, 8-foot-high windows along the front of the building, granite countertops at the bar, a carpet floor in the grand hall and pressed concrete at the entrance.

The $1.8 million project is funded by KNC, which has been setting aside a portion of homeowner fees. Warren Station seats 300 audience members in rows and 190 for round table banquet events, such as weddings.

Oz Architecture, out of Denver, designed the interior based on a traditional building, but membrane building systems aren’t designed to support weights of light fixtures, interior walls and more. To solve the problem, the construction team installed metal framework within the structure, to hang all walls, lighting fixtures and accommodate plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.

“As far as design, it takes a lot of forethought, being a nontraditional building system,” said Jeff Zimmerman, senior project manager for Vail Resorts Development Company. “You can’t just screw something into the wall, because (it has) no walls.”

“We’re making adjustments every day, so it’s really been a very creative collaborative process,” Blanchard said.

And so far, so good.

“On the inside, you won’t know you’re in a membrane structure,” Zimmerman said.

The venue measures 7,200 square feet, which is about 800 square feet smaller than the old pavilion, because the front end is circular, with a wrap-around deck. Height-wise, it’s just a couple feet taller than the old tent, and it sits on the same footprint. The box office will remain in the separate building, where it has been.

Though KNC holds a 14-year permit for Warren Station, in terms of building a more permanent facility, “the board wants to cut (that time) in half, but who knows what the economy is going to settle as,” Blanchard said.

“Keystone has not had a lot to do in the evenings,” Baker said, adding the station will host both large-scale and small events, including apres ski, with its full bar. “It’s an opportunity for the community to come together and get to know each other. We want this to be a social (place).”

KNC wanted to change the name of the performing arts venue to Warren Station (see related box), in order to separate it in the mind of the public from the tent image of the pavilion. The board even worked with consultants to create a new logo.

The re-branding message:

“This facility is not the old pavilion,” Blanchard said. “It’s a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility that’s going to host really nice upscale events.”

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