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Power Center for the Performing Arts

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1969–1981, Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates; 1980–1981 addition, Jickling, Lyman and Powell. 121 Fletcher St.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

In 1965 the university regents commissioned Roche and Dinkeloo of Hamden, Connecticut, to design this elegant performing arts center for contemporary and classic theater. Partially shrouded by trees, the steel-reinforced concrete and reflective glass building is situated at the edge of Felch Park. Six massive columns firmly balance the front facade, creating the appearance of a magnificent abstracted classical colonnade. The glass curtain wall of the foyer reflects the trees of the park during the day; at night, when theatergoers gather and the lights come on, the glass becomes transparent from the exterior, allowing glowing views of the interior lobby.

The interior is streamlined. Reflective glass, deeply indented in horizontal frames, flows around two freestanding spiral staircases that rise to twin steel-reinforced walkways that arc above the lobby. The walkways lead into the theater where 1,420 seats are arranged in a broad semicircle. The orchestra pit is actually a platform that can be raised to convert the proscenium stage into a thrust stage. A moveable stage lift for the orchestra platform stops on four levels—stage, house, orchestra, and pit.

The Power Center is named for the Eugene B. Power family. Power, a former University of Michigan regent and founder of University Microfilms (now owned by ProQuest), contributed funds for its construction.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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