The final touches are being wrapped up on the newest edition to the UACCH campus, the $10 million multi-purpose Hempstead Hall.
The building, designed by Prescott native Rico Harris, uses lines, angles and color in an attractive modern design that is definitely unique to the county. Chancellor Chris Thomason calls the building “architecturally interesting”.
The building’s front entrance includes a design element in the covered drop-off area that carries on throughout the Grand Hallway. The drop-off area is framed by large, Razorback red smart beams (fabricated by CMC Joist of Hope), which also appear exposed in the Grand Hallway as a functional design feature.
Just inside Hempstead Hall is a large stone inlaid shape of Hempstead County in the center of the circular Grand Reception Hall floor. The Grand Reception Hall also contains the building’s box office.
The north side of the reception area has a staircase that goes up three levels to the walkways that run along the east side of the Grand Hallway and offer access to restrooms, elevator and 1,600 seat theater.
The west side of the Grand Hallway offers access to the large conference room that can seat up to 800 people hosting events such as banquet dinners, industrial training seminars and RV and boat shows. The conference room can be divided into four sections by walls that allow for simultaneous events without noise being a distraction. Some of the sections can be further divided into thirds.
Dolly Henley, the Building Director of Hempstead Hall, is already hard at work marketing to conferences of around 500 and under and other events to utilize the facility. It is a market niche that Chancellor Thomason says the building was designed to facilitate.
The four conference room sections are equipped with roll-down screens and High Definition (HD) projectors for viewing of video or live streaming of events taking place in the theater when it is over capacity and an overflow area is needed. In addition to HD video, each sectioned room has built-in digital audio that requires no setup since you can simply plug-in and play.
The conference hall is accessible by a large roll-up overhead door that will allow large vehicles and trailers to enter the building for events. The carpets are designed to handle the traffic. A door at the back of each section that leads to a service corridor that allows for easy access to the full kitchen where caterers can provide food for events. A loading bay entrance to the kitchen offers convenient and efficient access for the caterers.
Hempstead Hall’s theater includes 1,600 seats in a massive three-story room with a green room, dressing rooms and stage catwalk.
The theater is equipped with fully digital Bose surround sound and an over-sized roll-down movie screen and HD projector enabling a movie viewing experience to rival, if not surpass, what you can get in the nicest cinemas.
A theater consultant from Chicago helped to ensure the design and acoustics of the theater would mean there is not a bad seat in the house and that putting on performances, whether musical or theatrical, and ceremonies, including graduations, are as easy as possible with all of the features and technology integrated in to the stage area.
If you’ve wondered what the recess in the building facing Highway 29 is, it’s not a loading dock. It is a fully functional plug-and-play outdoor stage that faces out to what will be a high-capacity amphitheater and pavilion for outdoor concerts.
Hempstead Hall also houses business offices and a local conference room called the Hempstead Room that will also feature a collection of memorabilia significant to Hempstead County including a duplicate of the Oval Office rug from President Clinton’s time in office.
The building has two sets of stairways and an elevator.
Hempstead Hall appears capable of delivering what it was intended to and more. Look for artistic, educational, and entertainment opportunities within its walls in the future bringing a potential boon to the local community economically and culturally.
And while the finishing touches are still being added to the building, some events have already been held in the conferences rooms.
Some of the events envisioned to occur in the building in the future include college and high school graduations and theatrical productions, the annual chamber of commerce banquet, college conferences and industrial training conferences.
Ground was broken for the project in October of 2009. The $10 million cost of the facility is being paid for by a one cent county sales tax. When the tax pays off the construction cost, all but 1/4 of one cent of it will be retired. The remaining amount will stay in place to cover the cost of operating the facility.