Spokane Journal of Business

The INB Performing Arts Center’s next act

Iconic venue set for $22.3 million overhaul

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-—Integrus Architecture PS
After the Best of Broadway production of Dirty Dancing later this month, the INB Performing Arts Center will be shut down for renovation, including an overhaul to the lobby, shown above.
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-—Integrus Architecture PS
The INB Performing Arts Center, originally known as the Spokane Opera House, hasn’t undergone a substantial remodel since it was first constructed in 1974. Some of the interior improvements are designed to give the venue a more modern look.
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The INB Performing Arts Center debuted 44 years ago as part of the World’s Fair. It’s largely been untouched ever since.

That will change, effective May 1. Operated by the Spokane Public Facilities District, the performing arts center will shut down for at least six months in preparation for a $22.3 million project that will overhaul the 14,000-square-foot building.

“It’s going to be a pretty dramatic project,” says Kevin Twohig, who now works as a project manager for the facilities district after retiring as its CEO effective Feb. 1. The PFD also operates the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and Spokane Convention Center.

“It’s basically a project that is going to last the community another 30 to 40 years,” he says of the three story, 100-foot tall building.

Spokane-based Lydig Construction Inc. will serve as the project’s general contractor, and Integrus Architecture PS, of Spokane, is the project’s architect and structural engineer, the INB’s design documents say.

MW Consulting Engineers PS, of Spokane, is the project’s electrical and mechanical engineers and Edmonton, Alberta-based Stantec Inc. is acting as an acoustical consultant on the project, design documents say.

Construction costs make up $19.2 million of the overall $22.3 million project. The remaining $3.1 million will go toward all new seats in the entire auditorium, accessibility studies and other miscellaneous items, Twohig says.

During construction, the most visible changes will occur as each window at the INB is replaced.

“All those single-pane window walls are coming out,” he says. “They’re going to be replaced by energy efficient windows.”

Sophie Lee, who works as an event manager for both the INB and convention center, welcomes the efficiency updates.

“It can get cold in here,” she says.

Last week, Lee helped oversee the stage setup for the children’s play, Paw Patrol. Following that, National Geographic Live will be held April 25, then, six performances of Broadway’s Dirty Dancing will be held April 26-29, bringing an end to events at the INB until the end of the year.

High school graduations for 2018 have been moved to the convention center’s exhibit hall, Twohig says.

“It’s a tricky project,” says Colin Anderson, an architectural engineer for Integrus. “You’re taking away an icon for six months and making changes that about 90 percent of the public really won’t see.”

The bulk of the work will include asbestos removal, the installation of a new electrical and mechanical system, and remodeling three stories of dressing rooms that aren’t visible to the public, Anderson says.

However, the INB’s lobby will get a complete facelift that, coupled with new windows and a wood ceiling that will be installed, will give the space a more modern look.

Inside, Twohig says, the INB, which has a seating capacity of 2,700, will get all new seats and be made more accessible for people with disabilities, he says.

The Performing Arts Center has no adequate way to get a person with disabilities to the front of the stage or to the green room, due to the steepness of the current ramp in the auditorium, which doesn’t meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he says.

“To access the ramp, a person has to take the elevator in the lobby up to the terrace level,” Twohig says.

In order for persons with disabilities to get to the front of the stage or to the green room, they must enter the lobby, have their ticket scanned, then be escorted back outside and around the south edge of the facility on the sidewalk to the exterior door located near the front of the stage, Twohig says.

To remedy the problem, a new hallway leading from the lobby will be constructed to provide access to the front of the stage. The main lobby itself is also slated for a complete makeover, and work crews also plan to remove all asbestos material in the building, Twohig says.

“The ceiling is also going to be redone,” he says. “When it’s finished, the INB is going to look dramatically different.”

Originally known as the Spokane Opera House, the building opened three days before Expo, ‘74 and served as the featured entertainment venue, according to Twohig.

“It was built by the state of Washington as a contribution to the World’s Fair and then given to the city a few years later,” Twohig says.

It was renamed the INB Performing Arts Center in 2005—shortly after the PFD assumed ownership from the city of Spokane—under a naming rights agreements with Inland Northwest Bank, he says.

Though final figures for 2017 have yet to be tallied, in 2016, the INB Performing Arts Center hosted 152,245 guests at 112 events and generated $752,340 in net operating income for the PFD.

 Kevin Blocker
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Reporter Kevin Blocker, a University of Colorado alum, is a rec league basketball addict. At age 47, he still sports a 32-inch vertical leap. He has three children, all of whom are hooked on hoops.

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