California team will design performing arts center at UM


They survived an earthquake, an ice storm and the death of a longtime associate.

Yesterday, the partners of Moore Ruble Yudell of Santa Monica, Calif., emerged as the winners of an international competition to design one of the most coveted building projects in Maryland -- a $97 million performing arts center for the University of Maryland's College Park campus.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced that Moore Ruble Yudell was recommended over four other nationally prominent teams that competed to design the building, which will be one of the largest and most complex in the university's 137-year history.

The competition "produced results that will give the state a firm with national and international stature, and the University of Maryland a facility of enduring quality and architectural distinction," said Mr. Schaefer.

He was joined by William Kirwan, president of the University of Maryland at College Park, and by Prince George's County Del. Timothy F. Maloney, who was instrumental in getting funding for the project.

"When this design becomes a reality, it will add prominence to what is already one of the nation's great state universities and will bring a new vigor to the cultural life of the state," the governor added.

Planned for a 24-acre site just west of Byrd Stadium, the center will contain a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 350-seat recital hall, a 650-seat proscenium theater, a 200-seat dance studio, and a 200-seat experimental theater. There also will be classrooms, faculty offices, a library and a restaurant.

During a 45-minute presentation in College Park on Thursday, architects Robert "Buzz" Yudell and John Ruble said they conceived of the center as a "campus within a campus," with many different components making up an "arts and academic village."

Their plan calls for the performing halls to line both sides of a covered arcade as if they were separate buildings on a meandering village street. This "street" would link the lobbies for the performing spaces while also providing access to the teaching areas. At one end would be a large outdoor amphitheater, surrounded by a colonnade. From a distance, the performing spaces would be distinguished by varying roof forms. Mr. Yudell said it would be a place of "delight, surprise, discovery."

Founded in 1977, the California firm was selected by a seven-member jury that reviewed proposals from all five teams Thursday.

The winning team also includes Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, Theater Projects Inc. of New York, Virginia-based landscape architect Michael Vergason, and consulting engineer Henry Adams Inc. of Towson and Honolulu.

The team will negotiate a contract to design the project. If state officials can't reach agreement with the competition winner, they will turn to the runner-up, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York. Albuquerque architect Antoine Predock was ranked third; Barton Myers Associates, fourth; and Cesar Pelli and Associates, fifth.

For the team that is hired, the design contract could be worth $6 million or more in commissions.

Moore Ruble Yudell was one of two contestants whose work was disrupted by the earthquake on Jan. 17 in California. It also lost a key partner when Charles Moore, 68, died of a heart attack on Dec. 16.

The College Park project is one of the first major commissions that Moore Rubell Yudell has received since Mr. Moore's death. Mr. Yudell said yesterday it's the kind of project Mr. Moore would have loved to work on.

"The spirit of what we've done in the building is a real affirmation of the things that Charles stands for -- humanism in architecture as opposed to pure abstraction, places that celebrate human activity," Mr. Yudell said.

Other well known projects by the firm include the $73 million California Center for the Arts in Escondido; a four-building science complex for the University of Oregon at Eugene, and Tegal Harbour, a housing, recreational and cultural center in Berlin, Germany.

The College Park design is also reminiscent of the firm's plan for the campus of Kresge College, part of the University of California system.

"They made a Herculean effort," said Adam Gross of Ayers Saint Gross. "It's an extraordinary commission. We're all very happy."

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