“I got to know Mike as a fellow student in the Art Department at Avon,” recalls Chris. “Our shared appreciation of art and design has remained a point of common interest. Over the years, we discussed the idea of working on projects ranging from community building charities to residential development.” Those discussions eventually morphed into ideas, until one day, Chris got what he describes as “the call that nearly knocked me off my chair.” “I’m building a 20,000-seat amphitheater in Charlotte,” Mike said. “Would you be interested in designing it?” “Not only because the project has such great potential but also because the friendship that started at Avon allowed for a high level of trust, I eagerly agreed,” explains Chris. “What followed was a free flow of ideas with Mike often stunning the team of acousticians, engineers, music executives, food services experts, and hotel operators with ideas that seemed, at first sight, outlandish or impossible, but with a little patience and creativity, they proved their beauty. Our most recent iteration started from a text message that I received while on vacation in southern Sicily. Mike sent me a diagram that looked like a Mobius strip in orbit with a dozen satellites. I couldn’t help myself; I had to call Mike to see what this was all about. And so I started sketching a vision for the amphitheater of the future, on a piece of hotel stationary, texting photos back to Mike as the image evolved. “With Mike’s determination and my creative push,” notes Chris, “this concept has attracted the attention of some of the largest entertainment and hospitality groups in the world, and we are positioned to build not one but three amphitheaters.
As Mike will tell you, this is just the start. And if only for the reason that I, my partner David Fox, and the whole StoneFox team get such a kick out of working with Mike, I hope he is right. It’s been a great pleasure.” The feeling, it seems, is mutual. “I’m a huge Chris Stone fan, dating back to Mrs. LaFerriere’s art classes,” explains Mike. “Chris is a gifted artist whom I greatly admired while at Avon. It was apparent back then he was destined for greatness. During our 1984 to 1988 period at Avon, we had an NHL Hall-of-Famer, a Grammy-winning superstar, and Chris Stone. He’s that good.” “I’ve watched Chris’s explosive growth in the Aspen market and the work he and his partner, David Fox, have done with the Aspen Museum of Contemporary Art,” he continues. “This project’s goal is to rethink the traditional amphitheater for the world’s largest concert promoter. The big buzzword today is VIP Heavy. When I think luxury, I think StoneFox. “The collaborative experience working with Chris is one of the best of my career,” notes Mike. “There’s an immediate comfort and trust because of the depth of shared experience. There’s no restraint; we can be creative and take risks that typically take collaborators months or years to develop. Both our companies heavily value the Avon experience. And we both employ fellow Avonians: Andrew Corrigan ’98 at StoneFox, and Roy Hubbard ’07 at READCO. The Avon experience permeates much of what Chris and Mike are doing these days—and both are quick to credit that experience as transformative and integral in
The Avonian Spring 2018