Northwestern College, DeWitt Theatre Arts Center

Orange City, Iowa

Northwestern College has a nationally recognized theater program in spite of the fact that it had a disjointed array of spaces on and off campus. The design consolidated those spaces through the adaptive reuse of an underutilized auditorium.

The volume of the space, the limitations of the budget, the prominence of the site, and the interesting form of ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMJerit Boys, Inc., Theatrical Design ConsultantsCOST PER SQ FT$114.84CITATIONSilver CitationFEATURED IN2005 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYAuditoriums/Music Rooms barrel-vaulted roof intrigued the design team. By wrapping the exterior with the necessary additions, the architect was able to create a new and exciting sculptural image for this important corner of the campus and community.

In addition to the barrel vault, other components of the structure include a voluminous cylindrical entry lobby and a clock tower. The clock tower is a symbolic sentinel of the college’s permanence, its rich history and its bright future. A bowstring truss identical to those in the existing interior was exposed to the exterior.

The building has two performance spaces—an elegant proscenium theater and a flexible black-box theater.

"Attractive, flexible adaptive reuse. The aesthetic supports the craft of the theater."--2005 jury