At Theatre Projects, we take a comprehensive approach to designing performance spaces. From early idea-generating conversations to opening night and beyond, we provide expert advice for new and renovation projects. Our experts are working theatre professionals and have hands-on knowledge of how these spaces work. We understand what these buildings need, now and in the future. From planning through construction, we work with our clients to make sure each space achieves its full potential for its users and community.

Theatre Project Consultants
AT&T Performing Arts Center, Winspear Opera House| Credit: Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

Strategic planning

Successful projects come from successful relationships. We start ours with a conversation to understand your goals for the project. Who are the players? What is the vision? How do you define your challenges? You tell us what you want to achieve, and we work with you to make it happen.

Our strategic planners have successfully led major arts organizations and performing arts centers. They’ve also been part of our team of experts on major arts-focused building projects. We’ve been there, on both sides of the curtain and through countless design challenges. We provide insight and advice to organizations and architects from project start-up through design team selection, artistic programming, and every aspect of operations and governance.

Strategic planning services
  • Needs and feasibility assessments—finding out what the community will support and what the organization needs, and reporting if there is available space, interest, and funding
  • Visioning and project definition—choosing what art forms or touring products to present, recommending facility concepts that support those activities
  • Concept development and programming—guidance on the practical needs of the spaces in the venue
  • Revenue planning—helping achieve maximum revenue for the operator
  • Design team selection—helping to find the right team for the project, from advice to preparing requests for proposals
  • Business planning—understanding how a new or renovated building might change the structure of the current organization, and planning for change
  • Artistic programming and operations—art forms and production types and how they affect your building’s design, staffing, scheduling

Theatre planning

Performing arts buildings are very complex structures. The front of the building serves the public, while the back acts as a second home for the artists and as an efficient factory for creative craftsmanship. These two worlds converge in the auditorium where audience and artist create the experience together. Addressing each of these worlds is our specialty.

We speak the distinct languages of the arts, construction, and design. With our diverse backgrounds in theatre, architecture, and engineering, we’re well versed in the needs of everyone involved with the building. Our ability to translate between artists and architects keeps the details clear to everyone on the project team. We’re dedicated to reviewing every detail—we look at performance functionality in every drawing and spec—to deliver the very best building possible.

Theatre planning services
  • Site analysis and planning—reviewing site options, how the building or complex sits on the site and in the landscape, access to and from the building for people and vehicles, and massing
  • Building layout—identifying where specific rooms must be located in order to maintain performance functionality, with efficiency and budget in mind
  • Circulation—how people, equipment, and supplies move effectively and safely through the building
  • Patron experience—planning audience amenities that maximize customer satisfaction
  • Support space and technical area planning—critical dimensions and design criteria for dressing rooms, loading docks, rehearsal spaces, ticket offices, and other spaces
  • Guidance and support—providing expert advice and support to the design team
  • Coordination and review—coordinating design choices with the various disciplines, reviewing drawings

Theatre design

In any production—whether a lecture, play, dance piece, opera, or concert—the performers and the audience create the experience together. A great room for live performance is not just about clear sightlines, good acoustics, and comfortable seating. A great room connects the audience to the performer and, just as importantly, to each other.

We apply our understanding of this powerful interaction between audience and performer to create great spaces where performance comes to life. We begin by listening to how the space will be used, discussing current needs and how programming might expand in the future.

Then we take an integrated approach, resolving technical issues like seating and sightlines while advancing the room design. As the room evolves we’ll give you a three-dimensional understanding of the space using renderings and models, so you have a clear idea of how it will feel, sound, and work once it’s built.

Theatre design services
  • Comparables—exploration of historic and contemporary examples similar in size, form, and performer-audience relationship to the project’s planned performance spaces
  • Preliminary design concepts—plan and section sketches exploring auditorium footprint, volume, and geometry that meet the needs of the user groups
  • Seating layouts and sightlines—ensuring optimum seating arrangements and clear lines of sight to the performers
  • Patron experience—audience circulation, accessibility, and comfort
  • Performance area layout—design and detailing of the stage or concert platform
  • Technical elements—critical dimensions and design criteria for catwalks, control rooms, stage lighting positions, grids, and galleries
  • Guidance and support—providing expert advice and support to the design team
  • Coordination and review—reviewing drawings and coordinating with other disciplines to help reduce change orders during construction

Theatre equipment

In the theatre, what goes on appears to happen as if by magic—whether that’s a flawless scene change, a brilliant lighting or video design, or a subtle sound effect. We design and specify the systems and equipment that work behind the scenes—efficiently, safely, quietly, and invisibly.

Not surprisingly, this equipment demands much from a building’s structural, electrical, and mechanical systems. We define and coordinate these requirements while integrating flexible, intelligent, and user-friendly systems.

At the beginning, the client has a big picture in mind, with all the equipment they could possibly want or need in the space. We help focus the options to what’s affordable, necessary, and appropriate for performance needs. We visit the site during construction to check equipment installation progress and identify conflicts before they become problems. What’s more, we test every performance system during the commissioning phase to make sure the details are correct, the final installation meets the design intent, and everything is functional before you open.

Theatre equipment system services
  • Stage machinery and rigging—control, infrastructure, and equipment
  • Performance lighting—control, infrastructure, and instruments
  • Performance draperies—control, infrastructure, and soft goods
  • Stage flooring, stage lifts, and platforms—infrastructure and equipment
  • Sound and show communications—control, infrastructure, and equipment
  • Video and projection—control, infrastructure, and equipment
  • Broadcast and performance streaming—control, infrastructure, and equipment
  • Adjustable acoustics and orchestra shells—control, infrastructure, and equipment


Good acoustics are essential for all types of performance venues. For some, they are paramount. Whether you’re presenting symphonic concerts, opera, jazz, rock, drama, or conferences, the acoustic quality of your auditorium is fundamental to a positive experience for both the audience and the performers. A great performance space carefully balances architecture, acoustics, and the specific needs of the art form. We work with the design team to create intimate, dynamic performance spaces that sound as good as they look.

In our European and Asian offices, we provide acoustic and theatre design services together or individually. In our US office, we collaborate with many different acoustical consulting firms, rather than providing acoustic design services in house.

Acoustics services (European and Asian offices)
  • Auditorium acoustics—the sound of the auditorium, including computer simulation and auralisation
  • Room acoustics—the sound of spaces outside the auditorium, like rehearsal facilities, backstage areas, and public spaces
  • Building acoustics—planning, external and internal sound insulation, and impact isolation
  • Electroacoustics—production sound, acoustic enhancement, and public address/voice alarm systems
  • Noise and vibration control—including structural isolation systems
  • Performer noise exposure control—managing performance area noise levels to protect performer hearing
Theatre Project Consultants
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music | Credit: Courtesy of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music