I have now had the distinct pleasure of attending the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for two wonderful facilities: the Lone Tree Arts Center and the …
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I have now had the distinct pleasure of attending the
ribbon-cutting ceremonies for two wonderful facilities: the Lone
Tree Arts Center and the Parker Arts and Cultural Events
The Lone Tree Arts Center opened Aug. 11. It has a 500-seat
theater, an additional 150- to 225-seat event theater that opens
through a glass wall to a 300- to 350-seat outdoor terrace theater;
and a lovely and functional entrance plaza. The cost for the
facility was $23 million.
The PACE Center had its ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 28 (and
officially opened Oct. 29). And by the way, it was the most
innovative such ceremony I've seen. Several ribbons were pulled
across the stage, one behind the other, with one town Council
person assigned to each. At the countdown, all of the ribbons were
scissored through at once — an exciting and interesting visual
The PACE Center has a 536-seat theater, 250-seat amphitheater,
an event room with a catering and teaching kitchen, an art gallery,
a dance studio, a media laboratory, and classrooms. It cost $21.7
Because the Lone Tree Arts Center opened first, I've already
attended about four events, and find that it works beautifully not
only as a theater, but also as a sort of mini-conference center and
luncheon space, as well as a reception and featured speaker
I've only attended one performance at the PACE Center, but I can
see already that it will be a success, too.
Both centers have comfortable theaters with fine acoustics. Both
have thoughtful designs. Lone Tree used Ohio-based architects
Westlake Reed Leskosky. Parker employed Denver-based Semple Brown
Both centers took advantage of just the right moment in the
economy to build impressive public spaces that were remarkably
There are some differences. The funding for the Lone Tree Arts
Center was based on a public vote, and narrowly carried. The
funding for the PACE Center is based on Certificates of
Participation, a kind of mortgage paid for out of existing
revenues. Both projects have demonstrated close management of
costs, and both Lone Tree and Parker have relied upon corporate and
Another difference may be just my own read. From the perspective
of live performance, the Lone Tree Arts Center is clearly set up as
a touring facility. That is, a show rolls in, sets up the stage,
does the performance, and leaves.
The PACE Center feels like a more diverse community space. While
it can host touring shows, too, the studios, media lab, and
classrooms seem to encourage local citizens not just to consume
culture, but to create it.
There is room in Douglas County for both approaches, and I'll be
curious to see how these design differences pan out over the next
I can't help but notice as I wander through each of the towns to
see the related new construction, particularly in Lone Tree. An
investment in the arts (and medical centers, in both communities)
seems to encourage other investments. I can certainly see the
appeal of living within walking distance of either place. Both will
increase the vitality of their respective municipalities.
It's a good thing to be able to drive just a short distance to a
great show, and be home before midnight. Now we just need more late
night restaurants. Douglas County is coming of age.
Kudos to the leadership of both Lone Tree and Parker, and
congratulations to your citizens.
Jamie LaRue is director of Douglas County Libraries. LaRue's
Views are his own.
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