Archive for ‘Cultural’

February 20, 2012

City of London Information Centre | Make Architects

Architects: Make Architects
Location: , UK
Client: City of London
Collaborators: Arup, Davis Langdon
Project Area: 135 sqm
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Zander OlsenMake Architects 

Situated opposite the South Transept of St Paul’s Cathedral, the City of London Information Centre introduces a dynamic contemporary structure to an area of exceptional architectural and urban heritage.

In form, the building combines simplicity and efficiency of structure with a distinctive visual impact. The triangular plan has evolved from analysis of principal pedestrian flows across the site, while the orientation and profile establish an intriguing dialogue with St Paul’s as the building looks up to its prestigious neighbour and opens out to welcome people approaching it. A folded metallic envelope evokes the aerodynamic profile of a paper aeroplane, seamlessly wrapping 140m2 of internal accommodation and formed by a steel frame braced with structural ply and clad in 220 pre-finished stainless steel panels.

The building meets exacting environmental standards and has been engineered to exceed current Part L targets for C02 emissions by 20 per cent. The structure’s envelope is highly insulated, the interior environment is regulated using borehole cooling and the sloping roof facilitates the collection of rainwater which is used to flush toilets and irrigate planting nearby.

January 23, 2012

Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts, Toronto | Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts was designed with the overriding principles of creating an exceptional auditory and theatrical experience for patrons as well as a democratic, open and engaging space within the city. The opera house is designed to make accessible an art form that has long been considered elitist.  By revealing the procession and activity associated with attending a performance, a new audience is cultivated and a new relationship formed between the patron and the city.

The Four Seasons Centre is a building in harmony with its context and innovative in design.  It has excelled in providing audience interest and comfort, has created operational efficiencies and achieved an acoustic and theatrical experience among the very best in the world.

and from Halcrow website:

The floating glass staircase

Believed to be the longest span for a glass stair in the world

Architects: Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Role: Full structural engineering services, building envelope consulting services

The $102 million Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the new home for the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and a new performance venue for the National Ballet of Canada.

Halcrow Yolles provided full structural engineering and building envelope consulting services for the fast-tracked construction of this 15,000m² world-class opera house.

Standing in the opera’s entrance lobby known as the City Room, theatre goers are surrounded by a transparent, five storey glass wall façade. The Grand Staircase, a feature in the City Room, rises three storeys from the Orchestra to the Grand Ring level and is a focal point upon entering the Four Seasons Centre. Innovatively designed and engineered, the floating glass staircase is believed to be the longest span for a glass stair in the world. The box office, retail space, Henry N.R. Jackman Lounge and the glass-walled Aerial Amphitheatre – a small rehearsal hall – are located on this main lobby level.

From the outset of the project the design team was focused on creating an intimate space within the hall, providing excellent acoustics and isolating the performance spaces from external sources of noise and vibration. The hall plan was based on the horseshoe shape, modeled after the great opera houses of Europe.

Known as the R. Fraser Elliott Hall, the 2,000 seat horseshoe-shaped auditorium is ringed by four tiers of balconies. The 28.5m wide auditorium is comprised of five levels: the orchestra, box level, and first and second balconies. The horseshoe configuration is a fundamental design component of the room, as it maximises sightlines and achieves the best possible acoustics for all theatre goers at all levels. In the Four Seasons Centre, 73 per cent of all seats are within a 30.5m cylinder of centre stage, with the farthest seat only 40m from the stage.

The deep, 6.1m wide orchestra pit can accommodate up to 100 musicians. The main stage is served by a 33m fly tower, stage rigging and lighting equipment. A full side stage and rear stage allow for three productions in repertory. The back-of-house areas include administration space, dressing rooms and the rehearsal room, located adjacent to the stage.

The auditorium, stage and rehearsal hall are designed as an entirely separate and isolated structure from the rest of the building. This separation of the outer building eliminates outside noises and achieves the goal of an N-1 sound isolation rating.

The facility also includes below-grade parking for 200 cars and a direct connection to the subway.

January 22, 2012

The New 42nd Street Studios | Platt Byard Dovell White Architects

Architects: Platt Byard Dovell White Architects
Location: 225-229 West 42nd Street, 
Completed: 2000
Photographs: Elliott Kaufmann

The New 42 Studio Building is a completely modern eleven-story creative “factory” for the performing arts designed for The New 42 Inc., the non-profit developer of the historic theaters of the 42nd Street Development Project. Mid-block on the north side of 42nd Street between Times Square and Eighth Avenue, the 84,000 square foot new building contains 12 rehearsal studios, 2 combined studio and reception halls, a 199 seat “black box” experimental theater – known as “The Duke on 42nd Street”– and related administrative offices, dressing and locker rooms, storage and other support space for dance companies and other non-profit performing arts groups. At the ground level the Studios incorporate retail space and the 42nd Street access to the lobby of the American Airlines Theater on 43rd Street, formerly known as the Selwyn.

In place of the conventional illuminated signage called for by the 42nd Street redevelopment project, the Studio Building’s façade is a collage of metal and glass, with sun-catching dichroic glass at the base, a 175 foot high-tech vertical LightPipe and an array of perforated metal blades presenting an infinitely variable display of colored light projected from ranks of programmable theatrical fixtures. Behind the blades, the transparent glass of the building adds the animation of the lights of the studios and the actual movements of the dancers at work and at the barres. Inside, the spirit of the collage pervades the building in inventive, colorful signage and graphics. Standing out from the hokey commercialism of its surroundings, the sensuous and engaging abstraction of the Studios strongly and appropriately announces 42nd Street’s principal working venue for performing artists operating at the creative edge. At the same time, the Studios’ inventive design explores and shows off for the first time some of the creative possibilities inherent in interpretations of the “tacky” lighting associated with historic Times Square and vindicates the notion that the “character” of Times Square was worth substantial public efforts to preserve.

Winner of the 2002 AIA Honor Award for Architecture; 2001 New York State AIA Design Award; and 2001 New York Chapter AIA Design Award. Also winner of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, International Illumination Design Award – The Paul Waterbury Award for Outdoor Lighting Design Award of Distinction; the International Association of Lighting Designers, Special Citation IALD Award; and the New York Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Lumen Award of Merit.

The New 42nd Street Studios project was recently exhibited at New York’s Urban Center as one of the city’s 30 most distinguished buildings built during the last 30 years. It was featured in Marcia Reiss’s book Architecture in Detail: New York, as one of the twenty most significant buildings in the city, and in Peter Hyatt’s Great Glass Buildings.

January 1, 2012

M3A2 Cultural and Community Tower | Antonini + Darmon Architectes

Architects: Antonini + Darmon Architectes
Location: 6 Rue Marguerita Duras, Paris, 
Area: 550 sqm SHON
Cost: 2,5 M euros HT
Finished: November 2011
Photographs: Luc Boegly

The buildings of the cultural and community premises of Paris Diderot University fit into the undeveloped, southwest area of the Flour Market which was recently converted by Nicolas Michelin and Associates Agency. A break between the Flour Market and the new building is preserved. It respects the existing building and accentuates the slenderness of the tower. The two, independent buildings coexist completely. The signal-like extension stands out of its context by means of its evolving shape. It is a sensitive, delicate object, treated simply to avoid rivalry with the strong presence of the Flour Market. On the contrary it acts as a light, gravitational counterpoint. An architectural dialectic and emulation come into play much like a castle and its keep, both intrinsically inseparable.

November 27, 2011


BIG wins an invited competition to renovate and extend an existing 1960′s concrete warehouse situated in a  industrial district which is being transformed into an alternative Arts District.

Located in Basel’s upcoming Dreispitz neighborhood, which is envisioned as an attractive and inviting urban quarter in Herzog de Meuron’s master plan from 2003, the existing 18.000 m2 ”Transitlager” built in the late 1960s is to be renovated and extended by up to 7.000 m2 for residential and commercial purposes. The development is undertaken by St. Gallen -based real estate development company Nüesch Development for the landlord, the Christoph Merian Foundation and investor the UBS (CH) Property Fund – Swiss Mixed ‘Sima’. The winning entry which included engineers Bollinger Grohmann and HL Technik was chosen among proposals from Harry Gugger Studio and Lacaton Vassal among others.

The Transitlager’s surrounding industrial area is characterized by the geometries of infrastructures – the intersecting railways, loading docks and turning radiuses that weave through the city and create a puzzle of linear buildings with pointy corners and staggered façade lines into an untraditional and adventurous urban area consisting of galleries, restaurants and creative businesses. The iconic character of the existing Transitlager, its generous surrounding public spaces, and connection to the city’s botanical garden makes the building a natural focal point of the Arts District. By re-programming and extending the former warehouse into a multifunctional series of floors for various uses, BIG proposes a cross breed of art, commerce, working and living. Two distinct buildings on top of each other form a mixed-use hybrid with activity and life 24 hours a day.

“We propose a transformation of the Transitlager that builds on the industrial logic of the existing building and of the surrounding area. The extension doubles the size of the Transitlager and becomes an opposite twin – based on the same structure, but with a different geometry. The combined building becomes a spectrum of optimal conditions: From open and flexible plans to tailor made units, public programs to private residences, vibrant urban space to peaceful green gardens and from cool industrial to warm and refined. ” Andreas Klok Pedersen, Partner, BIG.

The wide dimensions of the former warehouse, the mix of programs, the structural limits and the sun orientation creates a typology that is neither point house nor slab – a folded geometry adapted to the specifics of the existing structure and optimized for daylight and views. The staggered edge and pointy ends echoes the geometries of the industrial buildings of the neighborhood, creating a surprising familiarity with the heterogeneous surroundings.

“The stacking of two complimentary structures – one on top of the other – has generated a new take on the typology of the communal courtyard. Where the typical residential courtyard finds itself incarcerated by walls of program, the roofyards of the Transitlager combine the tranquility and communal space of the courtyard with the sunlight and panoramic views of the penthouse. A penthouse for the people.” Bjarke Ingels, Partner and Founder, BIG.

Stripped from existing interior walls, the 60’s era structure offers flexible open plans and an exceptional high quality of concrete work. BIG proposes an extension that with a minimum of intervention, creates a maximum of programmatic diversity and feasibility. By keeping the interior finishing sparse, and installations simple we propose a building tailored for creative businesses, ateliers and workshops. We propose a building with a simple and economical material palette optimized for both artistic work and classy luxury.

Architect: BIG
Location: Basel, Switzerland
Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen
Project Leader: Jakob Henke
Team: Gul Ertekin, Ioannis Gio, Ricardo Palma, Alexandra Gustafson, Bara Srpkova, Marcelina Kolasinska, Ryohei Koike
Client: Nuesch Development RG, UBS Fund Management, Christoph Merian Stiftung
Collaborators: Bollinger+Grohmann, HL- Technik
Size: 30,000 sqm
Status: 1st Prize (Completion 2015)
Images: Courtesy of BIG

November 20, 2011

Mosquée d’Algérie KSP Juergen Engel Architekten

As part of the celebrations of ’s National holiday on November 1st the foundation stone for the new “Mosquée d’Algérie”, designed by KSP Juergen Engel Architekten, was laid at an official ceremony in Algiers. This formal act marks the beginning of the construction of the world’s third largest mosque after the Islamic pilgrimage sites in Mecca and Medina. With its prayer hall for up to 37,000 people and the approx. 265-meter high minaret, the Mosque will in future be one of the largest religious buildings in the Islamic world. The complex offers space for up to 120,000 visitors daily and, in addition to the prayer hall and the minaret, boasts further facilities such as a cultural center, an Imam School, a library, apartments, a fire station, a museum, and a research center.

Located a mere six kilometers east of the historical town center and not far from the airport, the new mosque complex, which has a gross surface area of approx. 400,000 square meters, is an important stimulus for the future development of adjacent districts. The new focal point combines religion, culture and research, while at the same time serving as a new center for the surrounding quarters. Construction of the complex is due to commence in early 2012, once the requisite preparatory measures have been concluded. Commissioning is planned for 2016.

The entire complex is being built on behalf of the Algerian government on the basis of plans drawn up by a consortium consisting of KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten and the engineer-ing firm Krebs und Kiefer International in Darmstadt, Germany. In 2008 the design submitted by the consortium from Germany won the international competition, and the ceremony for the signing of the contract for the planning services was held in July 2008 in Algiers in the presence of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In the Bay of Algiers, east of the historical town center, the complex forms the main, initial element in a new urban de-velopment in Algiers. The center brings together various cultural and religious facilities as well as different educational institutions. A joint pedestal up to five meters high forms the base of the edifices that make up the Mosque complex, which are aligned from west to east on the raised plateau. The entrance arcades and the minaret, the prayer courtyard and prayer hall for up to 37,000 worshippers are located here, staggered on a longitudinal piece of land extending along an axis in the direction of Mecca.

The Mosque’s Prayer Hall

The prayer hall, or Salle de Prière, is a massive cube with a footprint measuring approx. 145 meters by 145 meters, and 22.5 meters high. A 45-meter high cube, slightly set back from the edge, bars the central dome. At its apex the latter reaches a height of some 70 meters and at its base is some 50 meters in diameter. The prayer hall, with its regular rows of pillars up to 45 meters in height, has room for up to 37,000 people. All the traditional religious elements such as the Qibla wall, the Mihrab, Minbar and Dikkah are integrated in a hall of modern aesthetics. Following the s architecture of traditional Islamic places of worship, the mosque’s outer skin is made of natural stone. The mosque’s courtyard mediates between the religious prayer hall and the adjoining esplanade in the west, the open space featuring the main entrance and the adjoining forecourt.


Its use, design and size make the minaret unique in the history of Islam. Some 265 meters high, the minaret has the dimensions of a skyscraper, while being extremely slender with its 28×28 meters The lower floors open out invitingly to the plaza. Panorama elevators take visitors to the upper, public floors, which house the Museum of Algerian History. Above this there are two research areas known as the Research Center, which are accessible to accredited scholars only,. Semi-transparent ornamental elements (known as “Moucharabieh façade elements”) surround the tower like a second skin, while at the same time serving as protection from the sun. The top of the tower is open to the public. Here there is a viewing platform for visitors and honorary guests. At night the illuminated glass skin of the top of the minaret radiates, visible from afar, as a point of orientation in Algiers and its new landmark.

The Park

The mosque complex is linked to the buildings in the south, namely the cultural centre, the library and the Imam School, by a spacious park. This landscaped outdoor area can house a large number of people and also offers a haven of tranquillity. Palm groves right round the mosque provide ample shade. Furthermore, fountains foster the overall sense of calm and concentration.

Cultural and Educational Buildings

In terms of height and alignment the buildings in the south used for culture, such as the Cultural center, the library, and the Imam School with apartments for doctoral students take are based on the residential development bordering in the south, and existing traffic routes. These cultural buildings are a fundamental part of the Mosque complex (and indeed of the urban development area used for cultural and religious purposes), which is not only the center of life of all commu-nity members with regard to religious matters, but also the center of events and social life. The unity of these buildings, devoted as they are to the faith in, and teaching and practice of Islam, is also expressed in the architecture chosen.

The “Floral-Column”

for the design throughout the edifice are The floral column with protruding capital serves as a design leitmotif linking all the areas of the ensemble. As a load-bearing structure and source of shade it also takes on functional duties, while satisfying technical requirements such as drainage and improvements to the acoustics, and furthermore structuring the entire complex.

Architects: KSP Juergen Engel Architekten
Location: Algeria, Africa
Developer: ANARGEMA (Agence Nationale de Réalisation de Gestion de la Mosquée d’Algérie)
GSA (total surface): approx. 400,000 m²
Gross volume (converted space): 1,750,00 m³
Height of the minaret: 265 m
Competition: 01/2008, 1st prize
Laying of the foundation stone: Oct. 31, 2011
Start of construction work: Early 2012
Commissioning: Mid-2016


October 9, 2011

Sony Center Berlin | Murphy Jahn


Architect: Murphy Jahn
Location: , Germany
Project Team: Helmut Jahn, Sam Scaccia, Philip Castillo, Dieter Zabel, Susan Pratt, Scott Pratt, Peter Hayes, Yorgo Lykourgiotis, Tony Pelipada, Andre Piraro, Carl D’Silva, Steffen Duemler, Andreas Hell, Oliver Henninger, Matthias Lassen, Sabine Robel, Bärbel Rudloff, Steven Nilles, Vincent Marani
Landscape Architect: Peter Walker & Partners
Project Area: 1,670,000 sqf
Project Year: 2000
Photographs: Rainer Viertlbock

In the reconstruction of Berlin, Sony Center stands for a new technical vision and order. It is not a building, but a part of the city. External is the “real” city; internal is the “virtual” city. The Passages and Gates reinforce this transition from the real to the virtual world. Surrounding Sony Center are the traditional urban streets and spaces. Inside is a new type of covered, urban Forum for a changing cultural and social interaction of our time. The spatial dynamics and variety is contrasted by a minimal and technological attitude. Light, both natural and artificial, is the essence of the design. Sony Center is luminous, not illuminated. Façades and roof act as a fabric, which moderates the natural and artificial light. They become a screen. With its characteristics of transparency, permeability to light, reflection and refraction, there is a constant change of images and effects during day and night, effecting not only the appearance but also maximizing the comfort and minimizing the use of resources.

Text provided by Murphy Jahn.

Owner: BE-ST Bellevuestrasse Development GmbH & Co., First Real Estate KG
Development Manager: TishmanSpeyer Properties
Structural Engineers: BGS Ingenieursozietät; Ove Arup & Partners
Special Structures: Werner Sobek Ingenieure GmbH
Mechanical Engineers: Jaros Baum & Bolles; Ingenieurgesellschaft Höpfner mbH
General Contrator: Hochtief AG. Berlin
Façade Contractor: Josef Gartner & Co. Fa. Götz

August 27, 2011

Atrisco Heritage Academy | Perkins+Will and FBT Architects

Architect: Perkins+WillFBT Architects
Location: , New Mexico
Project Team: Eric Brossy de Dios, Angela Kunz, Ann Knudsen, Charlene Martin, Kevin Mereness, Ashley Stoner, Nathan Wilcox
Executive Architects: Fanning Bard Tatum Architects AIA, Ltd.
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: New York Focus Photography

collaboration between Perkins+Will and , the Atrisco Heritage Academy features a set of autonomous school buildings, unified by a common pedestrian plaza. Located on the gently sloping southwest mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this innovative high school campus strives to safeguard the community’s past, with an eye toward the future in a rapidly changing environment. Accordingly, the campus architecture and interiors boast colors and murals that represent the unique cultural heritage of the community with a modern appeal. This 60 acre campus site serves to ignite development in this growing community.

The planning and design phase was based on a joint process which included representatives from the district’s education leadership and facilities departments, community groups, and most importantly high school students. As a result, the campus consists of career academies organized into three distinct buildings. Each academy has planning and activity space internally and externally to promote hands on work.

The notion of preserving the natural landscape was a primary goal in planning and design. The site, visible from the entire downtown Albuquerque community and outlying areas, will serve as a focal point in the changing landscape. The campus provides many societal function, and defines a true purposeful community center.

The campus serves the needs of 3,100 students, with flexible classrooms to accommodate for future changes in curricular needs. The school responds thoughtfully and is committed to addressing the real needs and opportunities of each high school student and educational team member. Moreover, the open campus and common areas provide dynamic places for people of all backgrounds to congregate and learn.

The career academies at Atrisco Heritage Academy will stress academic success in core subject while providing hands-on career experiences by creating partnerships with local higher education campuses and the surrounding community. These partnerships will help to ensure students are better prepared for college and careers by including programs such as an on-site student-run bank. In 2009, the Atrisco Heritage Academy High School was unanimously selected as the grand prize winner of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Exhibition of School Architecture.


July 31, 2011

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre | Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

First Floor Plan First Floor Plan

First Floor Plan First Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan Second Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan Second Floor Plan

Third Floor Plan Third Floor Plan

Fourth Floor Plan Fourth Floor Plan

Fifth Floor Plan Fifth Floor Plan

Longitudinal Section Longitudinal Section

Longitudinal Section Longitudinal Section

Longitudinal Section Longitudinal Section

Cross Section Cross Section

North Elevation North Elevation

East Elevation East Elevation

South Elevation South Elevation

West Elevation West Elevation

Architects: Henning Larsen Architects
Locations: Reykjavik, Iceland
Client: Austurnhofn TR – East Harbour Project Ltd.
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 28,000 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Situated on the border between land and sea, the Centre stands out as a large, radiant sculpture reflecting both sky and harbour space as well as the vibrant life of the city. The spectacular facades have been designed in close collaboration between Henning Larsen Architects, the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and the engineering companies Rambøll and ArtEngineering GmbH from Germany.

The Concert Hall and Conference Centre of 28,000 m2 is situated in a solitary spot with a clear view of the enormous sea and the mountains surrounding Reykjavik. The Centre features an arrival- and foyer area in the front of the building, four halls in the middle and a backstage area with offices, administration, rehearsal hall and changing room in the back of the building. The three large halls are placed next to each other with public access on the south side and backstage access from the north. The fourth floor is a multifunctional hall with room for more intimate shows and banquets.

Seen from the foyer, the halls form a mountain-like massif that similar to basalt rock on the coast forms a stark contrast to the expressive and open facade. At the core of the rock, the largest hall of the Centre, the main concert hall, reveals its interior as a red-hot centre of force. The project is designed in collaboration with the local architectural company, Batteríið Architects.

July 13, 2011

Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre by REX | OMA

2599_2_20 Wyly Exterior © Iwan Baan

321_2_Wyly - night view © Tim Hursley

2370_2_Wyly - view from terrace © Tim Hursley

2371_2_Wyly - lobby © Tim Hursley

2372_2_Wyly © Tim Hursley

2373_2_Wyly - dusk view with sign © Tim Hursley

2594_2_19 Wyly Exterior © Iwan Baan

2595_2_27 Wyly - Performance Hall © Iwan Baan

2598_2_18 Wyly Exterior © Iwan Baan

2601_2_24 Wyly - Stair to Performance Hall © Iwan Baan

2602_2_25 Wyly - Performance Hall © Iwan Baan

2603_2_26 Wyly - Performance Hall © Iwan Baan

2604_2_28 Wyly - Conference Room © Iwan Baan

2605_2_30 Wyly - Rooftop Terrace © Iwan Baan

Level 01 THRUST thrust floor plan © REX

Level 01 PROSCENIUM proscenium floor plan © REX

Level 01 FLAT FLOOR flat floor plan © REX

Level 08 eight floor plan © REX

Concept_Diagram-02-SUPERFLY_credit-REX concept diagram © REX

Architects: REX | OMA
Location: Dallas, USA
Key Personnel: Joshua Prince-Ramus (Partner-in-Charge) and Rem Koolhaas, with Erez Ella, Vincent Bandy, Vanessa Kassabian, Tim Archambault
Executive Architect: Kendall/Heaton Associates
Client: The AT&T Performing Arts Center
Consultants: Cosentini, DHV, Donnell, Front, HKA, Magnusson Klemencic, McCarthy, McGuire, Pielow Fair, Plus Group, Quinze & Milan, Theatre Projects, Tillotson Design, Transsolar, 2×4
MEP/FP Design Engineer: Transsolar Energietechnik, Germany
MEP/FP Engineer of Record: Cosentini Associates, 
Structural Engineer of Record: Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Seattle
Theatre Design: Theatre Projects Consultants, Connecticut
Acoustics: Dorsserblesgraaf, Netherlands
ADA: McGuire Associates, Massachusetts
Construction Management: McCarthy Construction
Cost: Donnell Consultants, Florida
Facades: Front, 
Furniture: Quinze & Milan, Kortrijk Belgium
Graphics/Wayfinding: 2 x 4, 
Life Safety: Pielow Fair, Seattle
Lighting: Tillotson Design Associates, 
Vertical Transport: HKA, California
Project Area: 7,700 sqm
Project year: 2006-2009
Photographs: Iwan BaanTim Hursley, Jeffrey Buehner

The Dallas Theater Center (DTC) is known for its innovative work, the result of its leadership’s constant experimentation and the provisional nature of its long-time home. DTC was housed in the Arts District Theater, a dilapidated metal shed that freed its resident companies from the limitations imposed by a fixed-stage configuration and the need to avoid harming expensive interior finishes. The directors who worked there constantly challenged the traditional conventions of theater and often reconfigured the form of the stage to fit their artistic visions. As a result, the Arts District Theater was renowned as the most flexible theater in America. The costs of constantly reconfiguring its stage, however, became a financial burden and eventually DTC permanently fixed its stage into a “thrust-cenium.”

Imagining a replacement for DTC’s old house raised several distinct challenges. First, the new theater needed to engender the same freedoms created by the makeshift nature of its previous home. Second, the new venue needed to be flexible and multi-form while requiring minimal operational costs.

The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre overcomes these challenges by overturning conventional theater design. Instead of circling front-of-house and back-of-house functions around the auditorium and fly tower, the Wyly Theatre stacks these facilities below-house and above-house. This strategy transforms the building into one big “theater machine.” At the push of a button, the theater can be transformed into a wide array of configurations—including proscenium, thrust, and flat floor—freeing directors and scenic designers to choose the stage-audience configuration that fulfills their artistic desires. Moreover, the performance chamber is intentionally made of materials that are not precious in order to encourage alterations; the stage and auditorium surfaces can be cut, drilled, painted, welded, sawed, nailed, glued and stitched at limited cost.

Stacking the Wyly Theatre’s ancillary facilities above- and below-house also liberates the performance chamber’s entire perimeter, allowing fantasy and reality to mix when and where desired. Directors can incorporate the Dallas skyline and streetscape into performances at will, as the auditorium is enclosed by an acoustic glass façade with hidden black-out blinds that can be opened or closed. Panels of the façade can also be opened to allow patrons or performers to enter into the auditorium or stage directly from outside, bypassing the downstairs lobby.

By investing in infrastructure that allows ready transformation and liberating the performance chamber’s perimeter, the Wyly Theatre grants its artistic directors freedom to determine the entire theater experience, from audience arrival to performance configuration to departure. On consecutive days, the Wyly Theatre can produce Shakespeare on a proscenium stage or Beckett in a flat-floor configuration silhouetted against the Dallas cityscape. Both learning from, and improving upon, DTC’s original Arts District Theater, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre will restore Dallas as the home of the most flexible theater in America, if not the world.