A year in review

January 8, 2004

From the highly acclaimed Walt Disney Concert Hall and the renovation of one of Britain's historic national treasures, to centers designed for training future generations of performing artists, during the past year Theatre Projects Consultants has once again shown what it takes to be the world's leading theatre design firm. The strength behind Theatre Projects' success lies not only in our understanding of how theatre works and their expertise in planning and designing performance spaces, but also in our commitment to our clients and our approach to every project as a unique performance space, designed to meet the needs of its users and community.

The following is a look back at 2003 and also a look to the future.

2003 Openings

For most of the projects listed below TPC provided space programming, planning, theatre concept design, and theatre equipment design.

Schuster Performing Arts Center; Dayton, Ohio, USA
The Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center includes the 2,300-seat Mead Theatre, a proscenium theatre fully equipped to host large scale touring shows and local productions. The architects for the project were Cesar Pelli & Associates (Connecticut) and GBBN (Cincinnati).

Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Emory University; Atlanta, Georgia, USA
This new arts center for Emory University includes an 825-seat concert hall with choral balcony and orchestra pit, a 150-seat theatre lab, a 150-seat dance studio, rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, classrooms, offices and backstage support spaces. Michael Dennis and Associates (Boston), Howard-Montgomery-Steger (New Orleans) and Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart (Atlanta) were the architects for the project.

Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College; Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA
The Center includes a 900-seat multi-purpose theatre with an adjustable orchestra pit capable of holding a large Wagnerian-style orchestra. A second multi-form theatre seats 200. The support spaces include dressing rooms, Green Room, offices, storage and four rehearsal spaces shared by the Dance and Drama Departments. Gehry Partners (Los Angeles) was the architect.

Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, Vassar College; Poughkeepsie, New York, USA
Theatre Projects Consultants worked with Cesar Pelli & Associates (Connecticut) to create a master plan for the renovation of historic Avery Hall. New performing arts spaces were built behind the preserved façade of Avery Hall. The Center includes a 330-seat courtyard theatre, a drama studio, a film production studio, a screening room, and rehearsal/studio space.

Georgian Theatre Royal; Richmond, Yorkshire, UK
Situated in Richmond, North Yorkshire, this Grade 1 Listed playhouse, the oldest working theatre in the United Kingdom, has been renovated by Allen Tod Architecture (Leeds) in association with TPC. A treasured part of Britain's national heritage, this theatre is key to the understanding of the historical development of the English Playhouse.

Touhill Performing Arts Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri, USA
This Center features the multi-purpose Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall which seats 1,625 on three levels. There is also a smaller, flexible space, the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater, with retractable seating which seats approximately 300. Pei Cobb Freed (New York) and the Farnsworth Group (St. Louis) were the architects.

Gross Theatre, Horace Mann School; Riverdale, New York, U.S.A.
This fully equipped 650-seat proscenium theatre was designed for a private co-ed high school in the Bronx. TPC worked with Graham Gund Architects (Boston) on this project and provided specifications for the seating and theatre equipment. Additional spaces include a drama studio, dance studio, and scene shop.

Walt Disney Concert Hall; Los Angeles, California, USA
Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this 2,265-seat concert hall designed by Frank Gehry, opened to critical acclaim from musicians, audiences, and the press. The Hall is intended primarily for symphonic music performance, however other types of musical performance can be accommodated on the open stage platform, with the audience surrounding the stage. There is also a 240-seat Garden Amphitheatre designed for use by community arts groups and for children's performances. Gehry Partners (Los Angeles) was the architect.

Sandvika Kulturhus; Sandvika, Norway
Working with architects Snøhetta (Oslo), TPC was involved in the strategic planning, policy and programming for this new theatre. The Kulturhus is a 500-seat auditorium, for dance, music and other cultural performances.

Opening in 2004-2005

Overture Center for the Arts; Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Phase One includes the construction of Overture Hall, a 2,250-seat theatre for touring shows and the new home of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Opera. Three flexible, rehearsal rooms are planned and an open performance space seating 250 for Kids in the Cross Roads. Cesar Pelli and Associates (Connecticut) and PLF (Madison) are the architects.

The Sonic Arts Laboratory, Queen's University; Belfast, UK
This unique room for the exploration of music and sound in a performance environment will be launched in 2004. Theatre Projects designed the variable acoustic devices, stage lighting and sound system infrastructure. The extensive acoustic volume of the space can be increased by coupling the basement volume through an open steel deck floor. Conversely the room's response can be reduced by the introduction of suspended absorbent wall and ceiling panels. The motorized ceiling panel frames also provide support for lighting and sound equipment. This laboratory is part of a new facility that will enable the University to offer both Graduate and Post Graduate courses in applied music and acoustics.

DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, University of Notre Dame; South Bend, Indiana, USA
This new 122,000 sq. ft. complex will feature a 900-seat concert hall, 350-seat main stage proscenium theatre, 100-seat studio theatre, 200-seat cinema and a 100-seat organ/choral hall. There will be extensive support facilities including rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, Green Room, storage, offices, and classrooms. The architect for the project is Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates (Los Angeles).

Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Of Music, National University of Singapore; Singapore
Working with RSP Architects of Singapore, Theatre Projects has been developing this new dedicated conservatory of music in Singapore. At the heart of the building is a 600-seat recital room designed for all aspects of the schools repertoire. The new building opens in 2005.

Ferguson Performing Arts Center, Christopher Newport University; Newport News, Virginia, USA
This project opens in 2004 and includes a new 450-seat proscenium theatre for music and drama, and created within an existing high school building are a 125-seat studio theatre, lighting lab, rehearsal rooms, scene shop, and dance studio. A later phase will include a 1,700-seat multi-purpose theatre. The architects are Pei Cobb Freed Architects (New York) and Hanbury Evans Newill Vlattas (Virginia).

Bahrain National Theatre; Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
TPC and Architecture Studio (Paris) have consulted for the Ministry of Works and Housing in the Kingdom of Bahrain for this 750-seat multipurpose theatre and 150-seat flexible auditorium scheduled to open in 2005.

The Music Center at Strathmore; North Bethesda, Maryland, USA
This new 2,000-seat concert hall will be a second home for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Part of the complex includes an arts education center with classrooms and rehearsal space for music, dance and theatre. William Rawn Associates (Boston) and Grimm & Parker Architects (Maryland) are the architects.

Ongoing projects

Dallas Center for the Performing Arts; Dallas, Texas, USA
This new performing arts center will include the 2,200-seat Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House for the Dallas Opera designed by Sir Norman Foster, Foster and Partners (London) and the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, a 700-seat multiform theatre for the Dallas Theater Center being designed by Rem Koolhaas, Office of Metropolitan Architecture (Netherlands). Kendall/Heaton Associates (Houston) is the executive architect.

Young Vic; London, UK
This £6m refurbishment to one of the best-loved and least glamorous theatres in London is now underway in a collaboration between Howarth Tompkins Architects and TPC.

House of Music; Aalborg, North Jutland, Denmark
The new building will contain concert halls, foyer areas, rehearsal areas for the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, North Jutland Music Conservatory, Aalborg University's Institutes for Music, Music Therapy and Architecture and Design.

Metropolitan Kansas City Performing Arts Center; Kansas City, Missouri, USA
This major new arts center, scheduled to open in 2007, will include a 2,200-seat lyric theatre and1,200-seat concert hall. The architects are Moshe Safdie and Associates (Boston) and BNIM Architects (Kansas City).

University of Virginia Performing Arts Center; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
TPC is currently working with Barton Myers Associates (Los Angeles) on a 1,200-seat multiform theatre for the University of Virginia. The center will also include classrooms, offices and rehearsal/performance rooms for the Music Department.

Staff news

2003 Awards and Distinctions
  • Theatre Projects Consultants received an Eddy Award, presented by Entertainment Design Magazine, for "forty-five years of design excellence."
  • Richard Pilbrow, chairman, was re-elected to the board of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).
  • Gene Leitermann, director of operations in Connecticut, was appointed the ASTC alternate to the Committee on Assembly Occupancies and Membrane Structures for the National Fire Protection Association. His first meeting was March 13, 2003 at a special meeting called in response to the Chicago and West Warwick nightclub tragedies.
  • David Rosenburg, senior project manager, was elected as a full member of the American Society of Theatre Consultants (ASTC).
  • Michael Nishball, head of the technical production department in Connecticut, earned a certificate in Construction Document Technology from the Construction Specifications Institute.
  • Richard Pilbrow was honored by the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) in December and was awarded the Fellowship of the Association.


2003 Teaching and Lectures

  • Iain Mackintosh, director of design in London, presented the 11th Annual Cascieri Lectureship in the Humanities at the Boston Architectural Center. His lecture titled Standing Room Only: an exploration of the audience's place, position, and posture from the Rose of Marlowe and Shakespeare to Fenway Park was given at the opening of a special exhibition of the historic Rose Theatre.
  • Iain Mackintosh gave the keynote address to open the conference, Making Spaces for Theatre, held at the Prithvi Theatre; Mumbai, India.
  • Gene Leitermann was a panelist for the Performing Arts Architecture and Construction Symposium at the Clarice Smith Center at the USITT Chesapeake Section Conference.
  • David Staples, managing director, was featured on a British Airways entertainment audio channel, talking about Norwegian opera and architecture.
  • Gene Leitermann taught Theatre Planning and Construction and Theatre Planning Seminar at the Yale School of Drama, Yale University. Gene also taught class sessions of Studies in Theatre Design, at the School of Fine Arts, University of Connecticut-Storrs.
  • Brian Hall, director of design in Connecticut, gave a lecture on auditorium design to the Theatre Planning Seminar at Yale University.
  • Richard Pilbrow lectured to the Director's course at The New School in New York City.
  • John Coyne, design associate, was a guest critic for the presentation of final student projects in Theatre Planning and Construction at Yale School of Drama, Yale University.


2003 Publications


2003 Productions

  • John Coyne was the set designer for Julius Caesar for the California Shakespeare Theatre; Very Good Eddie for Goodspeed Musicals; Die Fledermaus for the Washington Opera, and Rough Crossing for The Old Globe in San Diego.
  • Jules Lauve, project manager, was the lighting designer for I Pagliacci & Carmina Burana for the Orlando Opera.
  • Richard Pilbrow reproduced his theatre lighting design for the televising of the Broadway production of Our Town and was lighting designer for Very Good Eddie for Goodspeed Musicals. He was assisted by David Rosenburg, senior project manager, on Our Town.
  • Benton Delinger and Michael Ferguson, project managers, and John Runia, design consultant, were involved in numerous productions at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Ferguson also designed lighting for performances of various artists (Patty Smith, David Cassidy, Vonda Shepard).
  • Michael Ferguson was the production manager and lighting designer for Chicago and the Five String (Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago) and Banjo Dancing (Philadelphia and Chicago) with Stephen Wade.
  • Kristen Mathias, marketing associate, has done graphic design for The Belt Theatre (NYC), web design for Configuration Dance Company (Cape Cod), and scene painting for the LAByrinth Theater Company's production of John Patrick Shanley's Dirty Story (Harold Clurman Theater, NYC).

A year in review
Credit: Peter Aaron/Esto
A year in review
Credit: Cloud 9
A year in review
Credit: Alex Berliner/BEI/Rex Features
A year in review
Credit: Courtesy of Bærum Kulturhus