Advanced performance lighting systems Vari-Lite and Strand, Signify entertainment lighting brands, are meeting the demand for state-of-the-art technology at the new $88m Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in Houston, Texas. The flagship education and arts facility features more than 600 lighting fixtures, plus control and networking technology from the renowned lighting equipment brands.

Designed by Gensler Architects, the HSPVA features an 800-seat main theatre, plus a Black Box Theater, a Mini Theater, Recital Hall, Dance Studios and Recording Studio. In addition to its educational program, it will also play a lead role in the cultural life of Houston’s thriving downtown arts district.

“This is not your typical high school space,” said Chris Purpura, who led the project on behalf of theatre consultancy WJHW Inc. “This is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility with many different rooms and spaces. From the get-go, they wanted systems that were at the forefront of technology.”

He added, “The client wanted to treat the spaces as a blank canvas. Maybe, in the main theatre, they use the whole space or half the space, or maybe a performance takes place across two or more spaces simultaneously. We designed the network so that the spaces can be connected, or divided, as required.”

Working in close collaboration with the architects, building contractor McCarthy Construction and entertainment systems integration specialists from Wenger Corporation, WJHW specified an integrated stage lighting and control solution from Vari-Lite and Strand.

At the system’s core, a Strand Ethernet network infrastructure integrates Strand’s Vision.net architectural lighting management system, NEO stage lighting control systems and C21 dimming systems throughout the facility. Vision.Net, with its programmable touchscreen interfaces, allows endless configuration possibilities for the multiple spaces and enables configurations to evolve with use and experience.

Strand NEO control consoles provide advanced stage lighting control. “The NEO is a nice console,” said Purpura. “It’s very simple and accessible, which is important for a learning environment, but it also has a lot of power and flexibility.”

The investment extended to over 600 Vari-Lite SL Series and Strand fixtures. These include a broad array of the latest LED technology, from fixed PLPROFILE4 MKII white light ellipsoidals to colour-changing moving head fixtures, as well as conventional incandescent models.

The end result is a beautifully designed, fully equipped and future-proofed creative facility, which is set to inspire future generations of performers and technicians.