Overarching approaches and themes
The architectural approach for the Theatre chamber is to take the existing volume and surfaces and introduce forms and finishes that create a level of excitement that is currently lacking within the space. The existing pre-cast concrete balcony railing will be removed, re-built and expanded with a new steel frame to reduce its load on the structure. It will be finished with a plaster ribbon that envelopes the space and terminates on either end to frame the stage. This is an intervention that is lyrical, dynamic and engaging. The intent is that the form of the ribbon will harmonize with the performance without upstaging it.
The gestural ribbon architectural feature walls stand out from the recessive, dark walls and ceiling of the chamber. A plaster construction allows the complex form of the ribbon walls to be fabricated in an economical manner. The remaining vertical surfaces are intended to recede into the background as acoustically tunable surfaces composed of dark, vertical slats. A similarly pragmatic approach has been taken with the ceiling clouds with the intent being to re-configure them to provide a better approach to stage lighting and improve acoustic efficiency.
The design of the new Theatre lobby reflects an aspiration to create a gathering place that is flexible, welcoming and builds a sense of anticipation. The existing space is characterized by expansive views out to the north, board-formed concrete columns, and a unique feature stair at the center of the space.
A major theme within the design of the space is openness and transparency. The large expanse of south-facing glazing will be reincorporated into the new lobby providing users with an abundance of natural light and views out to campus. Conversely, the transparent facade will serve to increase the visibility of the Theatre lobby from the quad, in essence putting it on display for those on the ground below. The desire for openness and interconnection also informed the large opening in the slab between the main and balcony lobby levels highlighted by the iconic central feature stair (to be refurbished). This interconnection increases the usable area of the lobby space by allowing events to occur across both levels without disconcerting the user experience.
Anchoring the space is the plaster ribbon wall that emerges from the inside of the chamber, again building the sense of anticipation of what is to come. From a functional perspective, the ribbon wall will act as a projectable surface for accent lighting or a display that can be changed to suit the performance or event.