A small liberal arts college located in the quaint town of Lebanon, Illinois is home to a $10 million, 488-seat, 34,000SF performing arts building. The "Hett" is Southern Illinois' premier performing arts venue, presenting world class dance, drama, classical music, and jazz, and is the largest building on the 100-acre campus at McKendree University. Mackey Mitchell teamed with S.M. Wilson and Schuler Shook to design the performance center which has helped redefine the university and the area as a new destination for live performances. It has also contributed to increased enrollment in the university's arts programs.
The design centered around three key features: the lobby, the arch, and the performance space. A spacious, light-filled lobby provides a venue for pre-function and fundraising events. Between the lobby and the performance space is a large, LED-lit arch that has become a beacon in the community. The performance space is the building's crown jewel and has been recognized for its technical achievements and elegant design.
"McKendree University has a real gem in the Hett Center for the Arts. This is truly one of the best halls I have performed in," said Emily Onderdonk, San Francisco Quartet. "The acoustics are state-of-the-art, and the overall sound on stage and in the hall is so beautiful and clear that we were completely relaxed and focused solely on the music we were creating. This hall stands out as one of the truly great venues in the country."
Music lovers can rejoice that, at long last, Metro-East now boasts a concert hall that rivals the best in any major city. The architects and builders have accomplished a magnificent success.
- Dr. A. Dennis Sparger
Music Director & Conductor, The Bach Society of St. Louis