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CTC Design
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The new design features a glass atrium which is meant to evoke the feeling of London's Globe theater (Image courtesy of Children's Theatre)
The Children's Theatre Company today unveiled new plans for the expansion and renovation of its home in south Minneapolis. It's a significant change from what CTC originally proposed last spring. The design is smaller, simpler, and cheaper. The Children's Theatre Company says it could start work on the new building as soon as this summer if the state legislature approves bonding money for the project.

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Image The first design

St. Paul, Minn. — The Children's Theatre Company released its initial designs for the renovation last March. Working with architect Michael Graves the CTC planned to create a large, colorful, castle-like structure with flags flying from turrets over a dramatic front entrance.

That's all gone.

The new design keeps the CTC's current entrance, which it shares with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The look of the building - white with blue accents in modern lines - more closely matches the neighboring museum and art school.

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Image Lobby windows

In place of turrets and flags Graves has proposed a glass atrium supported by wooden beams. He says he wants the structure to evoke the Globe Theater of London where Shakespeare staged many of his plays. Graves says while the exterior has changed from his original proposal, he thinks the two designs are quite similar.

"Frankly I think that you see greater differences than I do," says Graves. "The rhythm is still there, the building has drawn its rather agressive character of color to the inside of the building rather than the outside. Now it's probably more like what people would expect for the whole complex of the MIA and the arts school."

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Image Second stage

In order to keep within the Children's Theater Company's budget Graves reduced the size of the expansion by 15,000 feet. However the plan still includes classroom space, a new dance studio, on-site rehearsal halls and a second stage. Artistic Director Peter Brosius says while the proposed building is smaller than the original plan he finds it to be better suited to the Children's Theater's needs.

"There's much more glass," sys Brosius, "It's much more inviting in a way because you get to see this activity inside. You've got light and you've got this thing which sort of rises up out of a more formal structure. So we're thrilled because it's a pull in. It's a magnet in because it has the history of the theater and yet a beautiful contemporary feel at the same time."

To date the CTC has raised almost half of the $24 million needed to complete the renovation. Last year it asked the state legislature to come up with the other half. The Senate and House finally agreed to fund $5 million, but then governor Jesse Ventura vetoed the proposal.

CTC Managing Director Teresa Eyring says this year they have an even stronger case for legislative funding.

"We have a design that's on budget," she says. "We have made significant process on the private side, we are well into the process in terms of city approvals and so forth. So we think if the legislature approved bonding for us and it's at least at that $5 million level, we feel confident we can raise the remaining private money and get started as soon as this summer," says Eyring.

However with the state's projected multi-billion dollar deficit the Children's Theatre Company will have a tough time convincing lawmakers it deserves funding. In addition the Guthrie Theater is unveiling final designs for its proposed new theater complex later this week, for which it's requesting $35 million from the state.

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