Georgia State University School of Music design/build project involved the 123,000 square-foot renovation of The Rialto Theater, Haas-Howell Building, and Standard Building in the Fairlie-Poplar district of downtown Atlanta. The Rialto Theater for the Performing Arts is the centerpiece of the GSU School of Music’s facilities and is a cornerstone for this downtown area’s revitalization. The 1,000 seat venue is used by the university as well as the Greater Atlanta Arts Community.
The Rialto Theater, an abandoned movie theater, was completely renovated with the exception of the exterior, leaving only the facade to remain. Some of the modifications included scaling the theater down from 1,250 seats to 1,000 seats, turning the ground floor into an entry hall and lobby; raising the facility’s roof 12 feet for acoustic purposes; and adding an orchestra pit, new seats on the orchestra and balcony levels, and a 75-seat black box theater in the basement. Climate, sound, and lighting systems were installed, and a new entrance to the facility was created on Forsyth Street.
The eight-story historic Haas-Howell Building, designed in 1922, is on the National Register of Historic Places and houses administrative and faculty offices, studios, and practice rooms. The second floor serves as the backstage area for The Rialto. The eleven story Standard Building, designed in 1923, is also on the National Register of Historic Places. This building houses classrooms, a library, rehearsal space, recording studios, a music listening facility, resource equipment, and practice rooms.