A devastating fire swept through the Lebowsky Center in February 2007 and destroyed most of the original Capitol Theater. Enough remained that Owosso’s last historic theater was reconstructed and reopened ad as The Joseph H. Lebowsky Center in 2014. The Lebowsky Center boasts an intimate 500-seat house with excellent sight lines and acoustics. While the exterior pays homage to the original, the interior design takes full advantage of new materials and contemporary technology that is safer and more efficient.
In existence since 1952, the Owosso Community Players has educated, entertained and enriched lives by providing a quality performing arts experience. OCP is the only community-based performing arts organization in rural Shiawassee County. Its programs create opportunities for performing arts experience for people of all ages and all social and economic backgrounds. Everyone has the opportunity to participate in OCP productions – from acting, orchestral and singing performances to set design, construction, lighting, and sound, to the front and back office support, and as an appreciative audience.
Each year, OCP conducts youth workshops which culminate in a youth production or showcase. Area youth experience their first theatrical roles and gain confidence and lifelong skills such as teamwork, creativity, critical thinking and composure in a public arena.
The reconstructed theater and enhanced OCP programming have had a major and longstanding community impact. Prior to the devastating fire, the Lebowsky Center was the largest drawing venue in the city. OCP’s performances helped support many of the surrounding businesses and invigorated the central business district. The rebuilt theater serves as an anchor in the redevelopment of a historic business and entertainment district with strength and vitality.
Lebowsky Center Goes Green – During Rebuild
“Green building is all we do”. Such is the quote from Guy Bazzani of Bazzani Associates, the builder selected by the Owosso Community Players to rebuild the Lebowsky Theater. Community interest in this project has sparked since Phase 2 began earlier this year. Now, brick is being laid and within weeks the building will be enclosed.
Planning for Phase 3 will begin which will lead to a completed interior and ready the facility to become the Shiawassee Performing Arts Center. The historic aspects of the building are being honored and respected in the rebuild process. At the same time, features are being incorporated into the design and building efforts that support a sustainable concept.
Sustainability in reconstruction is defined as the ability to meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.. Thus, the design of the Lebowsky includes not only a vision for today but for generations to come.
Bazzani Associates takes a “Triple Bottom Approach” to sustainability. This approach embraces Economic Viability, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Integrity. Guy Bazzani explains how this impacts the Lebowsky project: “The financing plan is affordable for OCP given the incentives secured for the project, making this an economically viable project.. The social value of the project is clearly evident given the impact the theater has on arts and culture in the Shiawassee community. Finally, the reconstruction effort lowers the environmental footprint by converting the theater to a high-performance building that is less costly to operate, healthier for occupants, and durable enough to last for generations. Once complete, the new Shiawassee Performing Arts Center will be eligible to seek certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s certification program. This is a voluntary program of certification known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). There are multiple LEED certification achievement levels. The Shiawassee Performing Arts Center will seek Silver Certification.
In the current phase of the project, Linda Keenan explains, we have increased the insulation in the roof which will lower energy costs as well as a sound control improvement. The Energy Star rated roofing material will achieve energy savings by reflecting the heat during summer months.
As planning is completed for Phase 3, additional green elements will be incorporated into the design of the interior. High efficiency heating, cooling, and ventilation systems will be installed. These systems will reduce operating costs for these functions up to 40%. Fresh air intake will be increased in the building to create a healthier interior environment.
An energy efficient lighting system will be used. This system increases the longevity, improves performance, and lowers the cost of energy to operate. Similarly, water usage will be reduced through the use of low-flow fixtures and other water saving devices.
Interior finishes will be selected with an eye to durability and low emission of volatile organic compounds. Such finish choices will assist in maintaining high indoor air quality over the long term and provide a quality environment for both performers and audiences for years to come.
Bazzani comments: “Sustainable construction practices come at a cost—usually 2 to 3 percent above traditional construction.” Based upon their experience with “green” construction in other projects, Bazzani has seen that these LEED upgrades pay for themselves within two to five years and continue to keep operating costs low over the long term.
“Seeing the Lebowsky “rebuilt” is an exciting experience. Knowing that the rebuilding efforts preserve the historic nature of the building is a benefit to the downtown and the community as a whole. Taking the next step and including sustainable reconstruction elements in the design and building effort, takes this project to an entirely different level—one with an eye to future. The Shiawassee Performing Arts Center will be an asset for generations to come,” stated Linda Keenan, OCP Executive Director.