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Combs High School Case Study


Hussey Seating helped create a genuine theater experience within a high school auditorium budget.

When Combs High School in suburban San Tan Valley, Arizona needed to renovate their auditorium, decision-makers at the J.O. Combs School District began to envision a full transformation of their existing space into a new performing arts center. This renovation would give students, who had been using the school’s cafeteria and library for performances, the ability to showcase their talents while also providing a valuable resource for the community.

Naturally, everyone was delighted when the project received voter approval for a taxpayer-funded bond. But this also meant all associated expenses would need to fit into that budget and provide real value for their investment. The end result would need to look elegant but not over the top with superb sightlines to meet the needs and reflect the make up of the community and student body. Ultimately this solution called for the design and construction of a theater on an auditorium budget.

Obstacles & Opportunities
To take on this challenge, Combs High School hired Arcadis, a project management firm, as their representative. Stephen Jones, Sr. Program Manager at Arcadis, was then put in charge of providing his client with the absolute best value attainable while still making a strong aesthetic statement. At the outset, he knew community involvement would be key, given the theater received funding under the requirement that the new space would provide for both student and community use so community forums were held to help design the space.

Local Hussey Seating dealer Norcon Industries met with both the architect and project manager to discuss options for creating the space they envisioned. During this meeting, Norcon presented a detailed overview of the new Quattro Art Series from Hussey Seating along with its many options including reveals and end panels. Dr. Gayle Blanchard, Superintendent of J.O. Combs School District, loved the look, noting “the beautiful wood backing really aligned with the wood inside this venue.”

The Payoff
The collaboration between Hussey Seating and Norcon Industries enabled a level of refinement typically associated with a significantly higher price point. The introduction of the Quattro Art Series blended affordability with elegance, which was the ideal solution for this fiscally responsible community. “I absolutely believe that this seating…was the icing on the cake. It just took this venue up a notch. It’s so classy; it’s so functional; it’s so beautiful,” said Dr. Blanchard. “And for the cost, it was the right move for us—the right decision.”

Since its opening night, the new Combs High School Performing Arts Center has been standing room only. In fact, the venue has become so popular that they’ve booked a number of community events as well, providing the school with a much-needed added revenue stream. In the end, the administration was able to provide students and the community with a valuable resource with the addition of new seating—ensuring the best seat in the house is the one you’re sitting in. “When you exceed their expectations by such a value,” explained Nic Smith, Drama Teacher at J.O. Combs High School, “and you see that light up on their face—it’s pretty cool watching that.”

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