Mill Center

Location: Hendersonville, North Carolina
Program: Theater/ Community Center
Status: Unbuilt

While the industrial Grey Hosiery Mill was once the community’s center of social and economic growth in Hendersonville, the need for a modern structure to host the city’s vision was needed. A new center could bring a wider array of distant communities to Hendersonville to augment the local potential. The Mill Center site is located along the Blue Ridge Mountains and near the intersection of two major North Carolina highways. For a small community like Hendersonville, highways are important doors to the surrounding community, bringing a lot of excitement, including intentional and accidental visitors. The concept for the new Mill Center was to provide a “New Globe Theater.” This Center would be a place where local residents and visitors could coexist and unexpected interactions. The program composition provides a union between indoor and outdoor performance space and indoor and outdoor activities. This union embraces new aspirations for Hendersonville and a refreshed identity for the local arts community.

The scheme proposes to organize all aspects of the Mill Center program around the performance spaces. The large theater, black box theater and outdoor theater are wrapped in the smaller program elements to create a centralized organization. This lets each part of the program interact with each of the others, and each becomes part of the audience of the performance. The individual program spaces maintain identity within the whole as each exerts itself on the common skin. The transparent wrap of the Center works to define the larger community, while allowing identity of its parts. The oldest portion of the Grey Hosiery Mill is memorialized by retaining its structure, and submerging its foundations in a reflection pool. The historic mill’s new function will be to reflect new Mill Arts Center and the future of Hendersonville and all who visit it.

Families visiting the Children’s Museum will glimpse into the Sculpture Studios, outdoor musical performances will become background sounds for classroom discussions, a wedding in the Events Center will spill-out for drinks in Mill Park, and administrative offices will become the audience of the orchestra warming up for the evening performance. This mixture and gathering of the community recreates the legacy of the ‘Mill.’