D.C. architects selected to plan state arts center

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 27, 2004
The same company restoring the Grand Opera House in downtown Meridian is expected to be named today as the lead firm that will create a master plan for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.
Martinez &Johnson Architecture, in association with Pryor &Morrow Architects Design Team in Columbus, Miss., will be in charge of the master plan for the center to be built on a 175-acre site on Bonita Lakes.
Martinez &Johnson, based in Washington, D.C., is doing the restoration of the Grand Opera House in downtown Meridian part of the Mississippi State University Riley Education and Performing Arts Center.
Pryor &Morrow also is working on the Riley project, which includes restoration of the Marks-Rothenberg and Newberry buildings adjoining the Grand Opera House.
Tom Johnson of Martinez &Johnson said the entire design team is excited about working on the project.
Other members of the design team expected to be named include the exhibition design firm of Gallagher &Associates of Washington, D.C.; Marshall Tyler Rausch Landscape Architects of Pittsburgh; and Schuler Shook Theatre Planners of Minneapolis, Minn.
The announcement was planned as part of a luncheon at Weidmann's restaurant. Besides that, other activities scheduled today include a tour of the center's site.
State officials planning to attend today's events include Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Leland Speed, Mississippi Tourism Development Director Craig Ray, Arts and Entertainment President Paul Ott and U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering.
Charlotte Tabereaux, executive director of the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center, has said she expects to break ground on the project in mid-2005, with the center completed in five years.
Plans for the center include a concert hall; a 5,000-seat amphitheater; an artists-in-residence village; a Choctaw Cultural Center; and an Arts and Entertainment Hall of Fame to include writers, actors, dancers, visual artists and musicians.

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