Dartmouth and Snøhetta have revealed the first renderings for the forthcoming expansion and redesign of the Hopkins Center for the Arts (the Hop), a project that will create a renewed gateway to the campus’s thriving Arts District. Designed to bring together artists and audiences, the rejuvenated and modernized Hop will build on a historic legacy of groundbreaking, interdisciplinary creativity by providing new practice and performance spaces, increased connections to surrounding arts buildings, as well as upgraded accessibility and mobility throughout the project.
Along with state-of-the-art digital and broadcasting capabilities, the potential for interactive audience experiences, and increased rehearsal and production areas, the expansion will allow artists and audiences alike to create and enjoy contemporary forms of expression while complementing the Hop’s original architecture by Wallace K. Harrison. Snøhetta’s expansion works alongside the playfully expressive existing architecture while also preserving the building’s iconic arches and presence on The Green, as well as its beloved spaces like the Top of the Hop, Moore Theatre, and Spaulding Auditorium.
Welcome, gather, create
The Hop introduces visitors to a multifaceted arts and culture district that connects The Green at the center of campus with the town of Hanover, serving as a front door to the campus as well as a vital place of gathering for visitors, staff, and students. To extend The Hop’s welcome, the design reaches out to the adjacent streets of the campus and its surrounding New England small town urban fabric, drawing inspiration from nearby mountains and native ecologies to celebrate its unique genius loci. The experiences of visitors, Dartmouth students, and the people of Hanover are all shaped by the region’s geography, and by its rugged natural beauty, which serves as a striking foil to the refined lawns, stately buildings, and accomplished arts practices of the campus.
This combination of the rugged and refined is reflected in our design. The exterior plaza, taking inspiration from the gracious curves of the mid-twentieth century building, is sculpted for intuitive movement to guide visitors towards places for gathering, meeting, and entering. Designed as a platform to elevate the daily lives of students and faculty, the plaza welcomes visitors and offers a glimpse into the dynamism of the arts processes happening inside the building.
The plaza connects visitors to a new entry that expands inside the Hop to create a central meeting place linking the existing building spaces with new facilities dedicated to enriching the creative process. The new lobby, dubbed the forum, creates a vibrant social space that will be active with students, faculty, and staff throughout the day, and with audiences before and after performances. A central stair links the forum with the second-floor, connecting the new Recital Hall and a Performance Lab, two venues designed for innovative and interactive performance events, with the ground floor and plaza.
The 150-seat Recital Hall is designed as a glass-enclosed lantern that overlooks the plaza and offers stunning views of the Baker Library Tower while looking into the Sugar Maples on The Green. Its tapered arch-framed windows are created using an innovative, curved mullion system, allowing for ample daylighting of the flexible seating configurations in the Hall. The space, outfitted with bespoke finishes and refined details, also offers state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment that will facilitate the creation of student-led performance media while transforming the Hop into a broadcasting center for digital performances.
A level below the forum sits the new Dance Studio, a partially-submerged rehearsal space with north-facing clerestory windows bringing in natural light and glimpses to the plaza tree canopy. As the Hop’s first purpose-built dance rehearsal space, the Studio’s 24-foot ceiling heights and well-lit interiors will offer the ideal place for dance troupes to perfect their routines. Our design also refurbishes the Hop’s 900-seat theatre, Spaulding Auditorium, while meticulously upgrading the Top of the Hop, a beloved gathering space. Several spaces on the lower level of the Hop, including the Theater Rehearsal Lab, will be reconfigured and redesigned as part of the project.