BR&P Time Capsule: Juanita K. Hammons Hall


Juanita K. Hammons Hall

This year BR&P celebrates our 40th anniversary! Being in business since 1978 means we’ve covered a lot of ground (no pun intended) over the years. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight our earlier projects throughout the year. This month, we look back to Juanita K. Hammons Hall Performing Arts Center in Springfield, MO, completed in 1992.


An Idea is Born

Juanita K. Hammons Hall Rendering

The idea for a world-class performing arts center in Springfield began in the 1960’s. The dream was a state-of-the-art facility that would serve the needs of Springfield and the surrounding region. However, it wasn’t fully realized until a push occurred in the 1980’s.


Dr. Marshall Gordon, the president of Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) at that time, had been in discussions with Springfield-based hotel mogul, entrepreneur and philanthropist John Q. Hammons for some time. Hammons was a believer in the importance of arts in the community. He managed properties in 34 states and noticed on his travels that the cities that were “alive” had strong civic development downtown and an excellent performing arts center.

Sketch of the inside of Juanita

“Marshall was a dynamic leader in that he was always trying to grow the University and to make it more attractive for potential students, better for existing students and a big contributor to the economic health of the community,” says Geoffrey Butler, BR&P Founding Partner and Architect who worked on the project. “Mr. Hammons was always there to help support his plans.”

 

Eventually, the potential for a performing arts center on campus came to the forefront and knowing that the community needed one, Gordon took it on as something the University needed to do. He convinced the Board of Regents to pursue the effort, and with the financial backing of Mr. Hammons, they were able to implement the vision.


The Project

Credit: Missouri State University Photo Services. Featured on SpringfieldMo.org


Gordon was keen to support local businesses.

“He felt that local design professionals were just as competent as architects and engineers who happened to live in bigger cities,” explains Butler. BR&P had been working with Missouri State for several years on other projects and had been very supportive of the University. Butler said, “When the project gained traction and they needed to select architects to do the project, we naturally were interested.”

At the time Pellham Phillips Hagerman and BR&P were two of the leading firms in the community. “Galen Pellham and I decided that both firms together were infinitely better than each of us alone and formed a joint venture for the interviews.” The team won the project. Marshall Gordon also made sure that special consultants were retained for acoustics and theatrical consulting. For further research, the design team toured the Performing Arts Center at Boise State University, which had been recently completed.

Juanita K. Hammons Hall Grand Opening

Juanita K. Hammons Hall Grand Opening – 1992


The project took four years from start to finish. “For almost two years the daily construction activities were a big part of my life, as I was the principal overseeing that work,” Butler explained, “Climbing up and down stairs and ladders all over the facility, monitoring the technical elements and watching the project costs were exhausting, but also exciting. That is why the grand opening was so much fun; it was the culmination of years of hard work.” The Hall celebrated its grand opening October 1992.