Howard Van Doren Shaw designed the original Ragdale Ring in 1912 as an open-air theatre for the work of his playwright wife, Frances Shaw.
In 2013 Ragdale launched an international competition to reinterpret Shaw’s Ring as a temporary, experimental environment. This annual competition provides artists, architects, and designers with the unique opportunity to devise and construct a performance venue and gathering place on the historic Ragdale campus. Each year, we seek inventive, large-scale submissions that explore intersections of architecture, sculpture, landscape, design, public art, and performance disciplines.
The 2016 Winning Design
A jury of architects and artists selected Rounds, submitted by SPORTS, the design collaboration of architects Greg Corso and Molly Hunker. The design team was awarded the Adrian Smith Prize for the 2016 Ragdale Ring which includes a $15,000 production grant and a ten-person, design-build residency for up to three weeks at Ragdale. Construction on the temporary structure will begin May 23, with the public unveiling scheduled for June 9, featuring a garden party and open-air performance with musicians and actors in the Ring.
“Lead designers Molly Hunker and Greg Corso have a proven history of thoughtful, creative, and successful built projects,” said Jeffrey Meeuwsen, Executive Director of Ragdale. “In addition to being an inventive design, their proposal celebrates and advances the notion of a ring and theatre in the round, offering modularity, adaptability and unique levels of engagement for both performers and audience members.”
Juror and prize sponsor Adrian Smith affirms, “I am proud to support the Ragdale Ring competition which uniquely serves the field of architecture and dynamically engages the public. Rounds is an exceptional design solution and I look forward to its successful construction and use.”
Rounds has a ribbon-like surface that undulates along the landscape at several heights to form the architectural theatre venue, offering performers and audiences a variety of ways to engage with one another in an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment. Small-scale undulations act as lounge spaces both during performances and outside of performance times. Mid-scale undulations provide entrances to the inner space of the ring while also providing smaller scale protected stage areas. The largest undulation is designed for the main stage area, a stage that can be broken down into smaller parts and distributed around the ring for several concurrent performances. The new Ring complements the existing landscape and can be experienced by visitors on special occasions as well as by artists in the residency program as they nurture their creative efforts.
SPORTS is the design collaboration of Greg Corso and Molly Hunker, founded in 2010 that explores the border between the everyday experience and the extraordinary or unexpected. Their primary consideration is how ideas of material, craft, and cultural tradition can both complement and provoke contemporary notions of aesthetics and atmosphere that deeply engage users. sportscollaborative.com
The Adrian Smith Prize for the 2016 Ragdale Ring is sponsored by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a world-renowned firm headquartered in Chicago which is dedicated to the design of high-performance, energy-efficient and sustainable architecture on an international scale. Architect Adrian Smith, is known for many landmark buildings, including the two world’s tallest structures – Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Kingdom Tower, now under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In addition to supporting the Adrian Smith Prize, he lent his expertise to the Ragdale Ring design review and selection process.