Buried in the harmonious trance of Tchaikovsky's two-act ballet, the audience is reminded how exceptional grace can transform the soul. Impish children drift amidst sugar plum fairies and ballerinas, all the while, the spirited presence of the ballet commanding their imaginations. It is here, somewhere between artistry and fantasy, where dreams are realized at Atlanta Ballet.
Fortunately, exploration within Atlanta Ballet has not been limited to choreographed movement, but is extended to the environmental movement, as well. In fact, Atlanta now boasts the nation's first arts organization structure with LEED gold certification, belonging to none other than Atlanta Ballet.
The Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre celebrated the second highest rating in sustainable construction with a grand opening August 14, that included a wide array of festivities and high profile appearances. Located on Marietta Boulevard, in the heart of Midtown, the eco-friendly structure is twice the size of the ballet's previous home on West Peachtree Street. In a mere two years and armed with a $10 million budget, Holder Construction erected the facility and directed over a half-million dollars of the budget solely toward green initiatives. (Not to mention breathing new life into a once-abandoned manufacturing plant from the 1950s.)
The design integrations were implemented in harmony with the physical structure and included energy efficient lighting, donated office furniture, recycled carpet, low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets. Furthermore, 98 percent of the construction waste was recycled, including the rocks from the renovation, that were donated to Zoo Atlanta.
Just as the recycled waste from the renovation better serves the community, the all-purpose nature of the building itself has offered non-profit performing arts groups in Atlanta the unique opportunity to utilize the space for special events, rehearsals and performances. The Centre for Dance Education, which proudly serves thousands of students per year, has also reaped the benefits of a repurposed structure, which include special amenities like private dressing rooms and a student library.
The state-of-the-art building was named after longtime Atlanta Ballet supporter and philanthropist Michael C. Carlos, who along with his wife, Thalia, bestowed a $3 million gift to help fund the project. Overall, an astounding $14 million was implemented to ensure long-term sustainability, renovation of the property, product and audience development and expansion of marketing efforts in the community. It will further the opportunities for art education in the Atlanta area and cement the Atlanta Ballet brand in the community as an exceptional entity.
Not only is the community enjoying the wealth of benefits offered by this project, but the company members have the opportunity to fully utilize and experience the design efforts implemented during construction. I had the privilege of interviewing seasoned company member Brian Wallenberg regarding the move into the eco-friendly building.
When asked how the transformation has affected his perception, Brian stated, "It makes me proud to be part of an organization that's eco-conscious. It's truly a step forward in the right direction and should act as an inspiration to other arts organizations."
Wallenberg went on to describe the refreshing energy surrounding the space and how truly inspired his fellow company members have become, simply by absorbing the purity of a green space. With its water efficient facilities and lighting sensors throughout the building, no detail went unnoticed. It is construction of this nature that proves a model to not only the community in Atlanta, but to the environmental and art movements alike. Once again, Mother Nature has inspired a giant leap in the way of sustainability.
Photo: Brian Wallenberg