James Madison University Forbes Hall

This job was an exciting opportunity for Lantz Custom Woodworking (LCW), both in scope and complexity. It was doubly exciting because the building is the new architectural showpiece for JMU, a university residing in LCW’s home town of Harrisonburg, Virginia.

In a spirit of co-operation and collaboration between the architects and LCW, the complex millwork designs in the two main performance venues became reality.  These venues feature extensive curved and compound-curved items, in both solids and veneers. Rich, dark brown stained and glazed utile (a wood similar in grain pattern to mahogany) runs all around the Concert Hall, and rises another thirty feet behind the choir seating to frame the Organ Alcove. The Main Stage features warm golden hues on maple and engineered Birdseye specialty veneers. This is a towering, vertical space. Its repeated curved surfaces culminate thirty feet overhead in a series of curved veneered reflectors that conceal two concentric catwalks.

Due to the extensive scope and anticipated time sensitive nature of the job, LCW proactively chose to add a 52” wide belt sander with veneer and lacquer sanding capabilities to its already extensive line of equipment.  This machine, while not completely eliminating hand sanding, allows for high quality, consistent finish of flat parts with less need for extensive hand sanding operations.

By this time, the CNC router had become an integrated part of LCW’s production process. Lantz’s use of the router’s capabilities allowed for rapid and precise fabrication of the complex curved components required for the job.  These included curved balcony walls, caps and rails, as well as finely seamed veneers for the compound-curved balcony railings in the Main Stage Theatre.



Forbes Hall, Center for the Performing Arts


May 2010

General Contractor:

Nielsen Builders


Hanbury, Evans, Wright, Vlattas

Performance Architecture (Concert Hall)

Project Highlights:

Concert Hall Millwork (600 seat) and Main Stage Theatre Millwork (450 seat)


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