Six project openings in six weeks

October 12, 2009

With six project openings in as many weeks, it's proving to be a busy couple of months for us at Theatre Projects! As the theatre consultant for Richmond CenterStage, the VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art and The George Bernard Shaw Theatre, Teatro Nazionale of Milan, Parabola Arts Centre at Cheltenham Ladies' College, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, and the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, the Theatre Projects team has been busy preparing for a flurry of openings for six strikingly different venues.


Richmond CenterStage

A new arts center with an old theatre at its heart

Working with Wilson Butler Architects and acoustician Jaffe Holden, we've created a new home for the performing arts in downtown Richmond, Virginia — Richmond CenterStage. The centerpiece of the complex is the newly renovated 1,800-seat Carpenter Theatre, which has been restored and re-built to accommodate Broadway-scale tours as well as symphony, dance, and opera productions. In addition, we helped create Dorothy Pauley Square, which serves as a home for local and regional artists. The Square includes performing arts spaces for music, theatre, dance, and arts education including an intimate 200-seat playhouse for local performances (Gottwald Playhouse), a multipurpose room (Rhythm Hall), an arts education center (Genworth BrightLights Education Center), a gallery, artist studios, and support spaces. We were responsible for programming, concept design, theatre planning, and theatre equipment design and specification for the project, which opened to the public on September 9.


VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art and The George Bernard Shaw Theatre

A community facility for families, festivals, and theatre

This remarkable new arts complex in Carlow, Ireland opened its doors on September 25 with a day of family fun. The VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art and The George Bernard Shaw Theatre were designed by Terry Pawson Architects to provide the city with a new venue to host the annual éigse Arts Festival. The venue contains a total of five gallery spaces — including a 12-meter-high main gallery which can display oversized artworks that no other Irish venue can exhibit — and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre. The GBS Theatre will present a mixture of local, national, and international work to the local community. Our services on the project included theatre planning, concept design, and theatre equipment systems in the George Bernard Shaw Theatre. We also worked closely with Acoustic Dimensions to design theatre systems that integrate fully with the flexible acoustics required to accommodate the space's secondary function as a cinema.


Teatro Nazionale

The revival of a grande dame of theatre

This 1920s theatre is one of the most important theatres in Milan and an integral part of the cultural fabric of the surrounding region in Italy. The Teatro Nazionale re-opened to the public on October 2 with a production of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast after an extensive renovation. The improvements included an expansion of the flytower, additional seating, and enhanced acoustics. Theatre Projects designed and specified the latest lighting, sound and communications, and stage engineering systems so the theatre can present world-class shows.


Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Ladies' College

Theatre as an educational space

Designed to enhance the educational experience for students at Cheltenham Ladies' College in Cheltenham, England, the new Parabola Arts Centre will enable the College to broaden their existing curriculum and provide new facilities for drama, music, dance, and presentations. A historic villa provides front-of-house spaces and teaching accommodation for the center, while an adjacent new building houses the 320-seat auditorium. The theatre is designed for flexibility and can host a variety of stage layouts — with or without an orchestra pit. Besides the student productions taking place in the theatre, it will also serve the local community by hosting local public events, including Cheltenham's literature festival. Working with Foster Wilson Architects and Paul Gillieron Acoustic Design, we provided concept design and theatre equipment expertise on the project. The theatre celebrated its official opening ceremony on October 3.


Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, AT&T Performing Arts Center

A traditional opera house for the 21st century

Theatre Projects, in collaboration with the team of Foster and Partners and Sound Space Design, celebrates the completion of the world-class Winspear Opera House in Dallas. Inspired by the grand opera houses of Europe, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center opened October 12. Home of The Dallas Opera, the Winspear Opera House will be a vibrant new center for the arts in Dallas and will provide The Dallas Opera with creative opportunities to grow as a top-tier opera company. Theatre Projects played the lead role in theatre design and planning as well as in engineering customized performance equipment.


Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, AT&T Performing Arts Center

Rethinking the traditional form of the theatre building

In collaboration with REX/OMA, Joshua Prince-Ramus (partner in charge) and Rem Koolhaas, we've designed the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre — the avant garde, vertical structure at the heart of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. The building's dramatic design organizes 75,000 square feet of performance and support spaces in a stacked, vertical array, and gives the public uninterrupted views of the theatre (stage, backstage areas, and auditorium) through expansive glass walls on three sides of the theatre. We designed a verstaile, multiform theatre that can be configured for up to 575 seats in proscenium, thrust, traverse, and flat floor arrangements. We also worked closely with REX/OMA to fit all of the performance and support spaces into the vertical scheme while ensuring their arrangement would support the functional demands of the resident Dallas Theater Center. Theatre Projects played the lead role in theatre design and planning as well as in engineering customized performance equipment.

Six project openings in six weeks
Credit: Robert Benson Photography
Six project openings in six weeks
Credit: Terry Pawson Architects
Six project openings in six weeks
Credit: Phil Harvey
Six project openings in six weeks
Credit: Nigel Young/Foster + Partners