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Theater Designs Worth Applause


By Jill M. Speegle

A $5.4 million performing-arts center that blends into the slopes of a volcano in Hawaii and a one-of-a-kind jazz venue in California are among the theater projects recently honored for their prestigious designs.

The United States Institute for Theatre Technology presented the architecture awards at its Annual Conference & Stage Expo held March 26-29 in Fort Worth, TX.

The Seabury Hall Creative Arts Center on the island of Maui was awarded the USITT 2014 Architecture Honor Award—the organization’s highest honor.

Three other venues—the SFJAZZ Center and the Bing Concert Hall (both in California) and the Jerome Robbins Theater in New York received Merit Awards.

Created in 1994, the annual USITT Architecture Awards recognize the best contemporary performance spaces built or renovated in recent years.

The awards are evaluated by a panel of distinguished jurors for creative image, contextual resonance, community contribution, explorations in new technologies and functional operations.

The Top Design

The Seabury Hall Creative Arts Center in Makawao, Maui, was designed by Flansburgh Architects of Boston, MA, with associate architect Riecke Sunnland Kono Architects Ltd. of Kahului, HI, and theater consulting by Theatre Projects Consultants of South Norwalk, CT.

According to USITT, the arts center, completed in 2012, replaced an outdated facility with a new 500-seat theater and dance rehearsal hall on the campus of Seabury Hall. Seabury Hall is a college preparatory performing arts school set on the slopes of the Haleakala volcano.

Seabury Hall
All images courtesy of USITT / architecture firm credited; Flansburgh Architects

Seabury Hall Creative Arts Center in Maui received the 2014 USITT Honor Award. The steel shed theater features wide barn doors that open the space to the natural environment overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The designers used a steel shed structure for the theater, with wide barn doors that open the space to the natural environment overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“Imagine a barn on a hilltop where all 500 students and faculty go to watch one 7th grader stand up, play the ukulele and sing: a thousand eyes—and ears—all focused on the moment when one child blossoms,” according to the school.

Seabury Hall
Flansburgh Architects

Completed in 2012, the Seabury Hall Creative Arts Center includes a flexible performance stage.

The theater and dance rehearsal pavilion were pre-fabricated and feature advanced lighting, sound and acoustic technology and a flexible stage. The performance hall can be converted in proscenium, thrust, and arena stage arrangements in addition to a flat floor area for dances and receptions, according to the architect.

The center is not only a gathering place for students, but also for the Maui community.

Merit Winners

The SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco was designed by Mark Cavagnero Associates, of San Francisco, with consulting by Auerbach Pollock Friedlander and SIA Acoustics, at a cost of $32 million.

Mark Cavagnero Associates

The SFJAZZ Center is the first freestanding venue in the country designed specifically for jazz, according to the architect.

The center is the first freestanding venue in the country designed specifically for jazz, according to the architect. It features a transparent glass façade and high quality acoustic elements.

The three-story, 35,000-square-foot center houses the Robert N. Miner Auditorium, which accommodates 350 to 700 patrons, labs, rehearsal spaces, a box office, café, and offices.

Opened in 2013, the center provides the SFJAZZ organization with its first permanent home in its 30-year history and offers a hub of culture, music and community, according to Mark Cavagnero’s project description.

The $75 million Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University was designed by Ennead Architects of New York with theatre consulting by Fisher Dachs and acoustical consulting by Nagata Acoustics.

Bing Concert Hall
Ennead Architects

The $75 million Bing Concert Hall in Stanford, CA, includes a 844-seat concert hall, an outdoor theater garden, rehearsal spaces and lobby.

Built in 2013, the hall serves as a new home to the university’s music department, Stanford Live, and a venue for visiting performers serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area community. The venue includes a 844-seat concert hall, an outdoor theater garden, rehearsal spaces and lobby.

The Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center was formerly known as “Theatre C,” and is now a 299-seat end-stage theater and main performance space completed in 2010.

Baryshnikov Arts Center
Wasa/Studio A

The Jerome Robbins Theater in New York City is a high-tech performance space that accommodates drama, dance and musical events, according to project details.

The architect was Wasa/Studio A; Arup/David Taylor served as the theater and acoustical consultant on the project.

The design involved a complete retrofit of an existing theater to create a high-tech performance space to accommodate drama, dance and musical events, according to project details.


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Architecture; Color; Design; Green building; Interior design; Restoration; Aesthetics; Architects; Awards and honors; Building design; Color + Design

Comment from shauna salazar, (4/8/2014, 7:15 PM)

Another theater that pops into my mind is the Patrick Henry High School Arts, Media and Entertainment Academy, designed by school architects, PJHM Architects. This project is the recipient of the 2013 AIA Orange County Members Choice Award.

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