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05 Jun

Olympic Takes Drama Out of Building the Guthrie Theater Featured

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Drama fuels life, literature and great buildings; there is no place for it in construction. When McGough Construction contracted Olympic Companies for Minneapolis' famed Guthrie Theater rebuild, there were 100s of changes ahead, but no drama.


Conceived by world-renowned French Achitect Jean Nouvel, the 285,000-square-foot facility includes three theaters, rehearsal rooms, administrative offices, production and support facilities, restaurants and parking.

"When Olympic submitted its bid, the Guthrie plans were not complete, Olympic was instrumental in labeling partitions and creating a plan on paper for what kind of wall to build where," says Bill Scherling, project manager for McGough Construction. "It was very much a puzzle"

Over 80 Olympic employees sprayed fireproofing, built interior and exterior metal studwork, lined elevators and duct enclosures with shaft wall, and placed all interior drywall. Because of high acoustical standards in a theater, Olympic customized multiple layers of drywall and GFRG ceiling panels.

The 1,100-seat Wurtele Thrust stage brought challenges. A nod to Sir Tyrone Guthrie's original design, the audience envelopes the stage on three sides, and slopes to bind the audience, orchestra and actors in one room. to reach the 65-foot ceiling, Olympic used an aerial lift to install 335 individual panels in tapered, angled and pointed forms. These panels were back-plastered to a density of six pounds per square foot to achieve to reduce vibration and echo.

"Olympic was patient with all of the changes throughout construction" Scherling adds. "We appreciated their flexibility and willingness to communicate to address problems upfront."

And Olympic left the drama where it belongs - on the Guthrie stage.