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Lawrenceville adding health, safety upgrades to $35M theater project

By Amanda C. Coyne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

The Lawrenceville Performing Arts Center is on track to complete a $35 million expansion in the spring, and it will have new health and safety measures intended to prevent the spread of diseases, including coronavirus.

The joint venture between the city of Lawrenceville and Aurora Theatre began in June 2019, months before the coronavirus first emerged in China. But since the pandemic began, new equipment and technology intended to prevent disease spread have been added to the plan. The upgrades will cost about $4 million, bringing the original $31 million price tag to $35 million, city spokeswoman Melissa Hardegree said.

“COVID-19 has changed our perception of safety and these additions to the project will create a safer environment for our visitors to enjoy vibrant arts experiences,” said Anthony Rodriguez, Aurora Theatre’s producing artistic director, in a city press release.

The theater’s ventilation system will feature bipolar ionization units, and the air conditioning system will have “enhanced” air filtering. In scientific tests, the technologies have shown the ability to reduce the circulation of viruses including COVID-19 and norovirus by 90% within an hour. Ultraviolet germicidal lights will be installed on the coils of some ventilation units in order to sterilize and sanitize them, a city press release said.

Patrons and employees will be able to see the safety measures throughout the theater. Doors, sinks, toilets and other frequently touched surfaces will have motion-sensor technology allowing them to be used without touch.

Plexiglass barriers will be used at sales locations, and movable plexiglass shields will be available for performers like instrumentalists, who have to be close to each other for long periods of time. Sanitation stations will be located throughout the building for easy access, the city said.

The Lawrenceville Performing Arts Center builds upon the Aurora Theatre’s existing space on East Pike Street, adding multiple indoor and outdoor performance spaces and classrooms that will be utilized by Georgia Gwinnett College.