How can we help you?
From strategic planning to venue design, performance equipment systems, audiovisual technology, and acoustics, we offer a holistic and user-centered approach to our work. Our in-house team of experts understand that well designed facilities need thoughtful planning to consider the function of the space as well as the people who will manage, use, collaborate, and engage there. We integrate our work with other design team members to create gathering spaces that are feasible, sustainable, and fit for purpose—today and into the future.
Former Managing Director - Northern Stage
Strategy & Operations
For us, part of what makes a venue truly successful is how it meets the needs of its users and supports its community. We work with clients at every stage of a project—from the earliest visioning and business planning conversations, long before a design team has been assembled, to after the facility has been built and is operational. We act as impartial, independent advisors to guide and support your vision so that you can fulfill your potential and sustainability as an organization and as a community resource.
Concept & vision
Being able to define and articulate your vision and goals is the first step to a successful project. We can help you develop your ideas and put them into words and an action plan, helping you to visualize your plans, build a strong foundation for your facility, and create a roadmap towards realizing your vision. Our process includes visioning workshops, goal setting, community engagement, market analysis, concept design, and project team development.
Feasibility & needs assessments
Determining need and feasibility for change or improvement allows you to make sure your plans will be supported by your community, helps to identify if now is the right time for it to happen, and analyzes what other considerations are at play. We’ll look at the options, analyze the data and your community, assess your facility, and make impartial recommendations on how to proceed—helping you to evaluate potential for major capital investments, equipment and system upgrades, and organizational growth.
Performing arts centers, cultural districts, community gathering spaces, or mixed-use developments can benefit from an initial master plan to guide the future growth and development of an initial vision. We work closely with clients to understand the practical needs of the community, users, and stakeholders to develop a roadmap towards the funding, planning, and design of the envisioned space. We collaborate with architects to analyze sites, identify form and function, and plan within the context of the surrounding environments, buildings, and social settings as we help you to plan strategically for the future users and managers of the space.
Site analysis & planning
When a new venue or gathering space is being planned, the site selection will be one of the first and most important decisions to make. We’ll put together a team to help you identify the right site for your vision. If you have multiple locations to choose between, we can help explore the merits and limitations of each site, assessing which will best serve your goals. We’ll also help plan how your proposed venue will work best within the context of the surrounding structures. Our comprehensive approach allows us to not only review the site specific to the physical facility itself, but also identify the operational and organizational risks and opportunities related to the site selection process.
A sustainable organization needs a solid business plan. We can help to define and determine your core business activities, objectives, and goals for serving your community—or help you revisit and refine your existing plan. Whether a part of early feasibility work or in support of existing organizations, we’ll work to develop long-term financial plans, marketing strategy, organizational structure, improvement plans, and your brand.
Design team selection
When you have a vision for your project, you need the right team to deliver that dream. We’ve worked with hundreds of firms in our 60+ years of operation, on all kinds of venue types and sizes. We will work as your advocate and can help you to build your design team. We can take the lead on design team selection, or we can advise you on which firms offer the right expertise for your project, make introductions, and let you decide which one is the right fit for your project.
Facility operations & management
Creating a supportive, effective, and creative organizational culture of facility operators and managers allows for a quality experience for your guests, artists, donors, and community. Through an analysis of your organization and operations, we’ll help to formulate strategic and sustainable organizational improvements that can develop your team and their skills. We also offer operational coaching sessions to support facility managers and operators in achieving their goals and professional growth while also supporting your Board of Director’s needs in relation to best practices in governance, goal setting, and board development.
Artistic programming & facility utilization
We can help you analyze and explore options for expanding or adjusting your artistic programming, determine feasibility and market demand for programming diversification, identify options in seeking other event and revenue types, and help to develop a programming strategy that will support measured growth and changes over time. We can also help to train programming, marketing, and operational staff on the fundamentals of programming—including with the selection process, making an offer, rider review, and contracting.
Guest experience is more than just great customer service and a friendly greeting, it’s about offering a quality service and experience in every single interaction that guests will make with your brand or venue. As you begin to develop or revisit your guest experience program, we’ll help to develop a holistic program, beginning with staff and stakeholder engagement then providing on-site experience mapping to establish guest experience standards. We’ll help you set achievable goals, develop training materials, and will even help you to train staff and volunteers.
As organizations change and grow, the operational structure also must adapt and grow. Increased programming and utilization may require more staffing (full-time, part-time, or contract labor), so we can help you to identify the specific needs of the organization and make recommendations to support that growth. This can include restructuring, addition of positions, compensation analysis, structure improvements, creation of job descriptions, and more.
Artistic Director - Dallas Theater Center
Planning & Design
Performance spaces are complex structures. Combining our backgrounds in theatre, architecture, acoustics, and engineering, we offer comprehensive design services on all elements of site planning and venue design. Our goal is to create spaces that aren’t just functional and efficient, but are also vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming spaces that flow together well, are easy to work in, and are a delight to visit. Each space is designed to spark human connections, exchanges of ideas, and unforgettable experiences.
Concept design & programming
The first step to creating the perfect storytelling space is to come up with a concept. We work with clients and design teams to create a concept that meets the project goals and promotes intimacy, energy, and human connections throughout the facility. We’ll shape each space according to its intended uses and we’ll create initial drawings to show you how we envisage them as the venue takes shape.
Building planning & space design
While the auditorium often garners the most attention in a venue, this space would struggle to function efficiently without the support of the spaces around it. We consider the building layout and space functions holistically, so the right rooms are in the right places, exactly where they need to be and with easy connections between them to maximize efficiency.
Performance area layout
There’s much more to a performance space than seats and a platform. Staging configurations, wing space, actor-audience dynamics, and several other factors will affect what it’s like to stage a performance in the room. Our designers create these highly technical and specialized spaces to suit the needs of the performers and enhance how their work is presented to their audiences.
Seating layouts & sightlines
How the audience experiences, interacts, and responds to the performer can affect the success of any event or performance. Bringing the audience closer to the stage promotes intimacy and a sense of energy within the room, so we pay particular attention to where the seats are in relation to the platform, and we create configurations to suit the programming. We’ll also do a sightline analysis to make sure every seat has a good view of the stage so everyone present can feel immersed in the action.
Support space & technical area planning
Rehearsal rooms, donor rooms, loading docks, dressing areas, shops, lobbies, green rooms, administrative offices, storage—the list is long. Each of these spaces performs a specific function and is highly specialized to support the meeting of actor and audience in the auditorium. We understand not only what equipment, circulation, and logistics should go into them, but also how they need to connect with each other for optimal efficiency.
Experiential design & brand environments
These flexible spaces are usually intimate and packed with smart technology so our clients can tell their stories and create experiences to support their product. These spaces often need to act as an extension of other environments owned by the client, so we take the time to familiarize ourselves with their brand and identity, understand what their goals are, then create a space that meets those needs.
Architect - Gehry Partners
Equipment & Technology
We design spaces that celebrate the human experience. Our equipment and technology designs enable and enhance that celebration. Everything we design is specific to the needs of our clients, appropriate for the program, and integrates seamlessly within the architecture of each space. Once designed, we’re with you during construction and on site during commissioning to make sure the final installation is safe, efficient, and easy to use.
Building-wide technology design
Performance venues may be the heart of your building, but there are many other spaces that support you and your organization. We design technology systems for classrooms, conference rooms, lobbies, and any space where people gather to communicate and collaborate. We believe that technology should create a consistent user experience across an organization. Our goal is to create technology systems in these spaces that are functional, easy to use, and enhance the intended use of the space.
As lighting technologies advance, so too does the demand for them to be used in all kinds of presenting spaces. We design lighting systems and infrastructure that are the right fit for each space, while giving the user the flexibility to change where and how they light the room, according to their programming needs.
Performance sound, video, and communications systems
Theatres must do many things for many people. The same space must be able to host an engaging lecture, hold a concert that has the audience dancing in the aisles, and premier a theatrical piece that suspends our disbelief until the house lights come back on. We design and specify the equipment, control systems, and infrastructure that ensure your performers are heard, your content is seen, and your space has the flexibility to support the audio, visual, and control demands of any performance.
Broadcast, recording, & livestreaming systems
We want to help you capture and broadcast the experiences and content you’re creating. We design recording studios, broadcast facilities, video production suites, and any space used to create and capture content. Whether you’re teaching students to record for the first time or livestreaming your biggest event of the year, we can provide the guidance and design to enable your venue with the capabilities you need.
Immersive technology environments
All theatre aims to immerse the audience in a story or experience. Advances in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) have created new and exciting ways to present stories to audiences. Whether that story starts in the venue or the moment a patron walks into the building, we’ll help you to create an environment that feels even more engaging, captivating, and interactive.
Stage flooring, stage lifts, & platforms
One of the most important elements of an auditorium is often overlooked: the stage. Stages are designed to meet the specific technical and artistic needs of performers. Whether it’s a sprung floor for dancers to leap across the stage safely, hidden traps that can make an actor disappear from the stage seemingly by magic, or raised platforms to allow all members of an orchestra to be visible to the audience, stage flooring and its equipment require specialist knowledge and complex engineering know-how.
Stage machinery & rigging
Permanent stage machinery is extremely complex and architecturally integrated into the building’s structure—from flying systems to stage revolves, horizontal drives, and mechanically raising an orchestra pit to extend the stage. Our stage engineers work with the design team from the earliest design stages to ensure that the users have all the technical staging tools they’ll need when they’re putting on a show.
Adjustable acoustics & orchestra shells
Multipurpose and multiform spaces often accommodate different performance types, from opera to symphonic performances, rock concerts, and even the spoken word. We design these rooms to have adjustable acoustics to meet the needs of each performance type, and—when appropriate—we design orchestra shells to enclose the performance environment and direct sound to the audience so they can hear every single musical note perfectly.
Digital signage, interactive signage, & wayfinding
Using digital and interactive wayfinding technology in any venue is a great way to help customers orient themselves, find where they need to be, and create a more personal and engaging experience. In addition, adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) systems offers visitors an easily accessible way to interact with you—QR codes or similar technology will deliver relevant and timely information to them as they explore your venue.
Data-driven experiences & insight
The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the level of insight we can derive from the built environment. Systems of devices collecting data and exchanging information have the capacity to create unique visitor experience, improve existing workflows, and provide detailed insight into the performance and operations of a building. We work with clients to identify opportunities where data collection and system integration can help achieve the goals of their organization, then help them make those goals a reality.
Chief Executive Officer - New World Center
Whether you’re presenting symphonic concerts, hosting a seminar, or revealing the latest product for your brand, good acoustics are fundamental to nurturing a dynamic connection between performers and audience members.
To get the best out of each performance, you need great room acoustics. The acoustical properties of an auditorium will depend on its dimensions, volume, shape, and finishes, so our acousticians establish the required acoustic criteria from the outset of the project following detailed discussions with clients and stakeholders. We make careful calculations throughout the design process to ensure those criteria are met as the auditorium’s design progresses from concept to commissioning. We also have extensive experience in designing variable acoustic systems to tailor the acoustics of a venue to the performance.
General building acoustics
It’s not just key performance spaces that need a comfortable acoustic environment. We know that the quality of each room’s acoustics can affect the experience of the users, so we apply our acoustic knowledge to rooms throughout the facility to make your venue a more enjoyable place to work, visit, and perform in. Throughout venues, we promote inclusion by designing for acoustic clarity in communication and by minimizing heavy acoustic door sets for those with mobility constraints.
Performer and operator noise exposure control
The safety of all who work in the industry is of the highest importance us. We promote the philosophy of “safety by design” on all projects—from allowing adequate space and sound absorption in an orchestra pit to controlling noise levels in plant rooms. Rehearsal facilities are a particular area of focus which should not be overlooked and we work hard to achieve acoustic comfort for performers from the moment they enter the venue until they leave. We believe this has a positive impact on health, morale, and performance.
Noise and vibration control
The acoustical environment of a space, particularly one where music or the spoken word are central to its function, is a key consideration in our work. At the start of a project, we can assess the suitability of the proposed site and advise on the cost implications of existing noise and vibration nearby. During design, we determine the performance requirements of building elements, such as mechanical ventilation systems. External noises like traffic can cause unwelcome distractions or ruin an otherwise excellent performance, so we carefully consider the building façade and isolation requirements, too. To minimize or eliminate these issues, we work closely with the building’s design team throughout the entire design and construction process.
Electroacoustics and acoustic enhancement
Contemporary performance spaces use modern spatialized sound systems to enhance performances. Many venues also offer sound reproduction and recording facilities. We specialize in using state of the art technologies to bring audiences the very best acoustic experience for every event while preserving the architectural beauty of the venue. We also design venues with full acoustic enhancement systems, which can vary the room acoustic qualities of a space depending on the performance taking place.
We strive for sustainable, efficient buildings from the concept stage of every job. As a part of this effort, we plan venues so that noise-sensitive spaces are separated from each other—minimizing noise transmission from one space to another and reducing the need for heavy construction materials to insulate sound. From the lobby to performance spaces and support areas, we make sure the conversations and environmental noises happening in each space are contained and don’t spill over into other areas. So, your Sunday afternoon matinee won’t be disturbed by the buzz of activity in your front-of-house spaces or by the performers rehearsing for the evening performance in an adjacent room.
As consultants we typically work in design teams on building projects, but we love to break the boundaries between designers and performers, too! We’ve collaborated on many art installations where acoustics have played a key role in production. We believe this gives us an added understanding of our end users and helps us design better facilities for everyone.