Our Approach to Building for the Arts

The purpose of art is to make you feel something. And subtly, the venues that present the art need to make you feel something too … while remaining perfect and unobtrusive. Crafting acoustically and aesthetically beautiful artistic spaces is a passion of ours. Restoring antique artwork is too. We feel a huge responsibility when we undertake a project that touches upon the arts because we know we're helping to create those intersections with beauty and meaning that are the essence of our human experience. Building for the arts is like no other construction discipline. It requires an exceptional level of knowledge and craftsmanship. We have both. And that's allowed us to help create some of the most extraordinary artistic spaces in the region.

DEVOTION TO DETAIL

Our experience, awareness of nuance and devotion to detail allows us to achieve a level of visual and auditory excellence that your patrons will notice and appreciate.

WHAT WE KNOW

We know how sound behaves and how structural mass impacts acoustics. And whether it's a massive sculpture or stained glass art, we are skilled at precise and careful installation.

WHO WE KNOW

We employ craftsmen who care about the same details that you do. And we have relationships with specialized subcontractors whose talent will contribute to making your project extraordinary.

A Ghost Story

Many famous old theaters have what are called "ghost lights" — Lamps that are kept burning night and day. The superstition goes back to the early days of theater when they were supposed to appease any mischievous spirits who might want to sabotage the show

"Otis" is the name of the resident Ghost of the Fox Theater, and keeping him happy and out of our way during construction was a fun tradition our crew adopted with a wink during the Fox renovation. We left the lamp on at all times. And when a tool inexplicably went missing or a brand-new compressor failed … well, we knew who was to blame.

In the end, Otis didn't cause our team too much grief. Maybe because we made him proud.

Arts & Culture Projects

Gonzaga University Magnuson Theater RenovationSpokane, WA

The former Russell Theater in Gonzaga University’s College Hall, which had not been renovated since 1968, went through several improvements in recent years. Renamed the Harry and Colleen Magnuson Theatre in honor of their generous donations, the theater’s lobby spaces and performance areas seating were extensively renovated and upgraded during the summer of 2008. Subsequent phases included improvements to the theater’s entrance canopies, structural improvements to mechanical platforms and existing catwalks, and reworked mechanical and electrical systems to enhance the experience of the theater’s patrons.

 
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Martin Woldson Theater AT THE FOXSpokane, WA

Originally built as a 2,300 seat movie theater, the renovated Martin Woldson Theater at THE FOX seats approximately 1,600 and is the home of the Spokane Symphony. Restoring this 1931 art deco movie theater into a modern concert hall was a thrilling undertaking for Walker Construction, and we are extremely proud of the results. The completed project won the following awards: Preservation Honor Award, 2010, National Trust for Historic Preservation;  Project of the Year for 2007, ABC's 2008 Excellence in Construction Awards; 1st Place in Projects over 4 Million Dollars, ABC's 2008 Excellence in Construction Awards

 
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Spokane Public Radio FacilitySpokane, WA

Starting with the structure of the historic Spokane Fire Station No. 3, the new Spokane Public Radio facility is now a 21st Century treasured community asset. The complete renovation features new broadcast and production studios, audio/visual recording and editing bays, and administrative offices. The space houses an expanded news department, local productions, new digital resources and a performance/recording studio.

 
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Showalter Hall RenovationCheney, WA

The 1996 Showalter Auditorium Renovation at Eastern Washington University restored the original 1915 architectural qualities while also bringing the facility up to present day technology and code requirements. Throughout the renovation process there was a constant challenge to combine the restoration of the original architectural qualities with the needs of a modern day performing arts facility. The historic preservation work consisted of ornamental painting, marble wainscoting, terrazzo flooring, ornamental plaster work, wood flooring, and refinishing and matching of the original wood trim. This project won a Historic Preservation Award.

 
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The Big EasySpokane, WA

This renovation encompassed 2/3rds of a city block in downtown Spokane. Two buildings were torn down to make room for this state-of-the-art performance venue, now called "The Knitting Factory". In addition, Walker Construction completed an additional level of parking over the renovated space, a full service restaurant, and 556 lineal feet of exterior building facade.

 
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The Old Church RestorationPost Falls, ID

This old church is a combination of two churches built in the 1800's and located at other locations. In 1921 the two churches were literally drawn by horses to the current location and united to become the Community Presbyterian Church. After the church was abandoned and sat empty for several years, the Community Building Partners purchased the building and renamed the structure "The Old Church". Walker Construction was hired to renovate this historical landmark in two separate phases. Later renamed the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center, the facility is a venue for artistic and cultural events, musical performances, weddings, and receptions. The "Old Church" was listed on the National Register in 1984.

 
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The Rotary Fountain at Riverfront ParkSpokane, WA

This magnificent plaza and interactive fountain is situated in Spokane's scenic Riverfront Park. The project consisted of construction of an underground mechanical room vault measuring 32 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 10 feet deep. The 21,000 SF plaza area has an 80 foot diameter colored concrete center, thirteen individual paths leading from the fountain, and 1,000 individually set donor plaques in the shape of fish. The plaza also has two raised gardens, nine benches and four individual vendor station tie-ins. The fountain itself is a sculpture by Spokane artist Harold Balazs, and consists of 40 upper ring jets, 10 sculpture jets, 48 mister jets, 8 aerations, and 5 boulder jets, that re-circulate into a 3,000 gallon holding chamber.

 
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Patsy Clark MansionSpokane, WA

In 2003 Walker Construction was commissioned to restore this beautiful mansion, designed by Kirkland Cutter, to its original glory and provide the necessary structural, electrical, mechanical and code requirements to allow the building to be utilized as a modern office for the new owners as a law firm. The results have been universally praised. The project was honored as a top renovation project in the state of Washington by Northwest Construction Magazine.

 
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St John's Cathedral, Various ProjectsSpokane, WA

Over the years Walker Construction has had the privilege of taking on several renovation projects in this beautiful Spokane cathedral.  Among them, a crypt remodel designed by NAC Architecture and most recently the columbarium doors, with architect Ben Nielsen.  Glass art by Northwest artist Mark Gulsrud.  

 
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“A BEAUTIFUL CHALLENGE”

A BUILDER'S PERSPECTIVE

Building for the arts is a beautiful challenge. Whether it is specialty lighting, acoustical requirements, or unobstructed sight lines, constructing artistic or cultural venues requires unique and sensitive solutions. So many elements build upon each other and are profoundly interdependent. You have to get it right the first time. Going backward is not an option.

With this discipline of construction, it's difficult to gauge the results of your work during the build. Really, the true test comes at the end when all the components are installed and in play.

I remember when we were nearing completion of the renovation at the Fox Theater. Sound consultants had been flown in from California to run tests on the theater acoustics. After a few minutes of testing, all they could do was sit back and smile. That was one of the most satisfying days of my professional career. Our precision had paid off in acoustic perfection.

~ Ed Walker
Vice President / Project Manager