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A raised stage is a necessity in a multi-purpose room. Unlike an auditorium with sloped seating, the audience is often seated on a single level and a raised stage is the most effective way to ensure good sightlines. And, because these areas pose a number of acoustical problems, raising the performers will help to control and project the sound over the audience. There are basically two approaches to a raised stage in the multi-purpose area – built-in or portable.

The Built-in Stagehouse

A built-in stagehouse will help create the most formal, auditorium-like environment. But the critical factor in planning for a stagehouse that works is planning for one that is big enough to accommodate the performers and equipment. The best designs will resemble proscenium-type theaters.

A proscenium stagehouse is characterized by wings, a fly-loft and adjoining storage. The fly-loft and wings will accommodate the rigging assemblies for curtains, theatrical lighting and sound systems. The wings also provide space for equipment and behind-the-scenes activity. The adjoining storage area is necessary so that large equipment like risers, acoustical shells and props can be stored on the same level as the stage. If storage can’t be provided here, a ramped access from the storage area to the stage will be necessary.

Portable Staging

While not as formal as a built-in stage, a portable stage does offer flexibility. Portable stages let you set the stage you need according to the size of the performance group. They also allow you to reconfigure the performance area or use the stage elsewhere in the facility or school district as needed. If you plan for portable staging, remember to provide storage either in the multi-purpose area or close by.


Flexibility is paramount here. The same space that feeds hundreds of hungry children or plays host to a basketball tour- nament will have to accommodate a PTA meeting or holiday concert just as effectively. As this space gets planned, it will be important to list all the various activities that will happen here and then plan for the space, equipment and storage to handle it all.


Equal access for everyone is the goal of the Americans with Disabilities Act that was signed into law in 1990. The ADA guidelines detail the things that must be done in order to make public areas equally accessible to people with disabilities. If you’ve ever actually seen the ADA guidelines then you know how extensive and how complex they are. They cover everything from signage to stairways and ramps. Your architect should be well aware of what needs to happen in your new facility in order to comply with ADA legislation.

Multi-Purpose Performance Areas


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