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Arts Initiative

East Tennessee State University

Arts Center

Martin Center for the Arts

MHM Drawings

Please explore the images below provided by McCarty, Holsaple, McCarty, architects and project managers. Click on image to see a larger view.


 Arts center front entry  Arts center front entry

  ETSU arts center, front entry from State of Franklin Road


 Floor plan, ground  Floor plan, upper

Floor plans, gound and upper levels. The three performance halls include a studio theatre, a large auditorium, and a recital hall.


 Lobby, lower level  Lobby, upper level

Arts center lobby, lower and upper levels.


 Large auditorium, facing the stage  Large auditorium, view fron the stage

Views inside the large auditorium which will seat approximately 1,200 patrons. Left: looking toward the stage. Right: Looking from the stage to the back of the auditorium.


 Recital hall  Studio theatre

The recital hall will seat approximately 190 patrons.


The studio theatre will have portable seating to allow for many configurations. Maximum seating is approximately 200.






When does construction start?

We’re excited the construction of the Martin Center for the Arts is scheduled to begin sometime near the beginning of the Fall Semester 2017. Groundbreaking occurred on Friday, September 10, 2017.

When will the Martin Center open?

Construction is anticipated to take about two years. While we can’t be certain at this time, we anticipate that the building will open Fall Semester 2019.

Why does ETSU need a new arts center?

Over the years, enrollment in ETSU arts programs has grown, curriculum has changed, and our facilities struggle to address current and future needs. We want to provide our students with the space and skill sets they need to prepare for professional careers in the arts. The new arts center will help us improve the conditions faced by our academic programs.

Existing performance spaces and the support areas needed to service them (dressing rooms, loading docks, proper flooring and rigging, etc.) limit our abilities to produce events locally or to present national tours.

We’ll provide a quick comparison. The stage and wings in the Culp Auditorium, the largest performance stage on campus, occupy approximately 850 square feet. The stage floor is concrete with a wood parquet covering. The arts center main auditorium stage and wings will be approximately 4,000 square feet, plus an additional 400 square feet for the stage apron. The stage floor will be sprung underneath with an appropriate board on top comparable to many other performance halls.

When the Martin Center opens, ETSU will be better prepared to recruit and retain students and faculty. We’ll be able to expand our ability to schedule touring companies and provide service to campus and the surrounding community.

We're excited about possibilities!

Why has it taken so long to start construction?

Many people know that the construction of an arts center is the culmination of a 30 year dream in our community. Once Governor Haslam and the Tennessee State Legislature approved funding for the building, the project moved forward to the design phase.

The architects for the building, McCarty Holsaple McCarty, began work in summer 2015 to design the new building. The conversation began with meetings with numerous stakeholders on campus, in the community, and at the state level. Except for a four-month delay while the City of Johnson City discussed partnering with ETSU for construction of the building, the entire project is on schedule as planned.

The building is very complex. Except for office spaces, restrooms, and a few other spaces, virtually every room in the building is different with separate needs for acoustics, lighting, seating, performance, HVAC, and many other needs. This web site attempts to provide information to the public, and we encourage you to explore the site or contact us with questions.

Who is designing the new building?

McCarty Holsaple McCarty, Inc. are the architects, interior designers, and project managers for the new building. Denark Construction, Inc. is the general contractor.

Other members of the team include a number of consultants: Theatre Consultants Collaborative (theatre design consultants), Acoustic Distinctions (acoustic and audio visual consultants), Fisher + Associates (master plan consultant), Beeson Lusk & Street (structural and civil engineering), Facility Systems Consultants (MEP engineering and fire protection), and Vermuelens (cost consultants).

Is there a name for the new building?

During the approval and design process, the name of the project used was “Fine Arts Classroom Building,” and this nomenclature has been used with all formal documents submitted to the state.

The final, formal name of the building has been approved by the ETSU Board of Trustees: James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts.

We're pleased to honor the Martin family who gave so generously to the arts at ETSU and in our community! 

Will the building be open to the general public?

Yes! We’re anxious to welcome guests to campus and the center! ETSU arts programs already present over 200 public events each year. We’ll continue to provide many entertainment, educational, and enrichment activities for campus and the general public, and we look forward to hosting many more.

Where will patrons park?

The ETSU parking garage on State of Franklin Road is the primary parking garage that will service the Martin Center. To assist with pedestrian traffic, the City of Johnson City will be installing a traffic signal at the intersection of State of Franklin and Harris Drive.

The vast majority of public events in the arts center will occur at night and on the weekends when parking needs are not as urgent. ETSU parking hours of enforcement are Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The public will be able to use the ETSU parking garage and other nearby ETSU parking lots for free. For guests visiting during weekday hours, visitor permits are easily available during ETSU parking hours of enforcement.

For more information about ETSU Parking or to obtain a visitor parking permit (online requests are available), visit Parking Services.

Is public transportation available to the arts center?

Yes! The Johnson City Transit Purple Route has existing stops on State of Franklin at the intersections with Jack Vest Drive and Sherrod Drive, both located nearby the center. Visit Johnson City Transit for more information.

How will mobility challenged individuals maneuver into and around the building?

The building designers have worked hard to assure access to the building follows current ADA standards for the mobility challenged. Handicap parking and a patron drop-off area will be available at the back of the building. The exterior sidewalk and the first floor of the building (including lobbies, hallways, performance spaces, restrooms, etc.) are at the same, level elevation. An elevator will service the second floor. Accessible seating in the main auditorium and other performance spaces meet or exceed the number of seats required by current ADA guidelines.

What about other accessibility needs?

ADA consultants have assisted with the design of the building, and the building design must have approvals that assure adherence to code. The three performance halls will be equipped with hearing assist devices. The online ticketing system used for ETSU arts performances addresses ADA concerns. With advanced notice, center staff will help patrons with large print materials, sign-language interpretation, wheel chair assistance, and other needs to help our guests have positive, comfortable experiences.

What academic programs will have space in the building?

The Department of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance will have performance space, some classroom spaces, and some faculty and staff office spaces in the Martin Center. No department will be fully housed in the new building. The Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will be responsible for operations management in the building, and staff offices will be included in the center.

Other ETSU arts programs (Bluegrass, Storytelling, Film, and others) will be encouraged to schedule spaces when appropriate and feasible to do so.

While we are disappointed that we were not able to address all academic needs for the arts within the scope of this building, the wider ETSU Arts Initiative continues to work to provide support and improvements for all academic and support areas. We continue to support efforts to recruit students and faculty, develop curriculum, improve facilities, raise funding for scholarships, and other activities.

Are other campus programs welcome to use the building?

Yes! The Martin Center hopes to provide support and access to all of the arts areas at ETSU, including those that do not have designated space in the new building. Bluegrass and Storytelling, for example, will have opportunities to schedule concerts; Film may schedule screenings; other events and activities sponsored by all academic programs are expected to occur.

ETSU views the arts center as a resource for the university and for our community. We are in the process of developing usage guidelines that will help us work with others to schedule events in the center.

Will community organizations have an ability to schedule events?

Yes! We view the building as a resource for the community and there will be time throughout each year when the building will have dates available for other users. ETSU is already in conversation with arts organizations that may have interest in scheduling events in the building in the future. We are in the process of developing usage guidelines that will help us work with others to schedule events in the center.

What can I do to help?

Help us spread the good news about the new building!

ETSU continues to raise funds to support the construction, equipment needs, and programs for the Martin Center. Please contact Michael Webb with the ETSU Advancement Office.

If you are interested in volunteering now or in the future, please contact the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at 423-439-8587 or

Where can I get more information?

For more information about the design and operations of the Martin Center, please contact the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at 423-439-8587 or  

If interested, staff is available to speak with community groups and organizations.



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