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New performing arts centers


Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Orlando, Florida

When community leaders and designers were envisioning the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, creating great places and public spaces was just as important as designing the interior, said president Kathy Ramsberger.

That’s part of the reason the center’s entrance fronts the CNL Arts Plaza, a large performance piazza and community courtyard that will hold up to 3,000 people and serve as the center’s “fourth theater.”

Magnolia Avenue separates the center and the plaza, but straddling the street and connecting the two spaces is the DeVos Family Room, a floating glass-enclosed room that can be used for private parties. A roof terrace is planned above the DeVos room that will connect to an interior balcony at the top of the soaring atrium lobby.

The 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater is an amplified theater perfect for Broadway shows, and the 300-seat Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater will host smaller theater, dance and music performances. Center leaders are still in a capital campaign to raise money for the planned 1,700-seat Acoustical Theater, for which they plan to break ground this month.

The center will open November 6 with 11 days of planned events, including shows that showcase the Disney and Pugh theaters.

Although the center can’t yet announce its upcoming performances, its programming will range from Broadway productions to family and comedy shows, jazz and rock concerts, Ramsberger said.

“The goal is to be not only doing the big commercial work but also partnering and collaborating with the local, emerging artists,” she said.

Groups can reserve a variety of spaces for private events, and docents will be available to lead group tours.