Designed, fabricated, and installed by a student team at Virginia Tech, the Masonic Amphitheater in Clifton Forge, VA, provides a public park and performance space for the rural Appalachian community. Among the products used for the structure’s construction were ALPOLIC composite panels from Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America.
The amphitheater’s construction was funded by a cash grant from The Alleghany Foundation and material and service contributions from both local and national contractors, suppliers, and product manufacturers. The design/buildLAB, a third year architectural studio comprised of students in Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design, designed the structure and handled the fabrication and installation of the ALPOLIC panels.
The amphitheater project was essentially a class assignment for the 16 undergraduate students involved. They were asked to work with the community to plan and submit individual design proposals. Once received, a master plan was then devised as a convergence of each student’s proposition. As a result, the driving idea behind the finalized design became an emerging sculptural form that would mimic the surrounding landscape.
Now complete, the amphitheater features a main stage with acoustic shell, a backstage with loading dock, green room and wings, a sound and lighting control booth, and a benched seating area for an audience of 200. The use of the ALPOLIC composite panels was limited to the underside of the structure. The 4mm-thick, FR-cored panels were provided in four attractive finishes: Four finishes of FR-cored panels were utilized: Stainless Metal (Hairline), HLZ Aluminum, Titanium, Zinc.
When asked why ALPOLIC, designers at design/buildLAB explained that in addition to functioning as traditional cladding, ALPOLIC’s smoothness and ability to fully adhere to a solid backing allowed the material to double as an acoustic reflector. Additionally, ALPOLIC’s long-term durability was cited as a solution to constant exposure to climate conditions and abrasion from the movement of heavy equipment.
The Masonic Amphitheater was completed in June 2012. The project took four months to complete, successfully achieving the set schedule of one academic year.
Commonwealth Contracting Services, Clifton Forge, was the project’s general contractor.