This renovation of a 1940s-era concert and theatrical hall re-examines and reimagines an aging civic auditorium, once considered to be one of the best examples of Art Deco design in North Carolina. Located on a tight urban site in the City of Asheville’s hilly terrain, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium’s updated design accentuates the building’s heritage, while creating a modern, landmark performance space.
The structure was originally built to accommodate events as varied as theatrical performances, athletic competitions, musical concerts, social events, conventions and conferences. Reopened in 1975 after having undergone expedient expansion / renovation, the facility has benefited from only minor improvements since that time. The design team led city representatives through a visioning process to identify and address existing issues to bring the auditorium up to contemporary performing arts venue standards.
In addition to solving existing circulation and ADA / code compliance challenges, proposed improvements will also enhance acoustical performance, improve sightlines and update aging amenities. Lowering the auditorium and stage 20 feet into the existing basement level will increase acoustical volume and create a much safer, on-grade stage loading sequence. The new design doubles the existing balcony space, further improving acoustics and reorienting seating to improve sightlines throughout the 2,000+ seat auditorium. The introduction of a three-story sequence of lobbies increases lobby space and allows patrons to disperse more quickly and closer to their seats. Ample concessions and restrooms will also be available on each level.