The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, a nationally renowned theatre company, established its present base in 1980, when the block was dominated by auto-body shops. Today, it is the keystone of the new Downtown Berkeley Arts District -- a revitalizing concentration of theatres, performance spaces, museums and other cultural uses.
Donn Logan. while Principal at Elbasani Logan Severin Architects (ELS), worked closely for many years with Berkeley Rep during the detailed programming and fundraising phases of the new 600-seat proscenium theatre west of the then-existing Thrust Stage Theatre, as well as the design and construction of its outdoor courtyard used for events, gatherings and small performances. The RODA Theatre was completed in 2001, and about a decade later, Berkeley Rep commissioned Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects to renovate the 400-seat thrust-stage theatre and design a new concessions bar as a pre/post-event informal meeting area, a box-office as a unifying connection between the two theatres, and a centrally-positioned courtyard that serves as an informal gathering area, and can double up as an outdoor performance space.
The key design objectives were to enhance audience experience with a new perspective on the social use of the space, to ensure regulatory compliance, and to upgrade infrastructure with new technologies for enhanced uses. As quoted by the artistic director, Tony Taccone, at Berkeley Rep, “The greatest thing (about the theatre) is the combination of intimacy and large scale. That’s rare. You usually find just the opposite -- a spacious house with a small stage. Creatively speaking, it’s like being in a great big playpen with all your favorite toys. It really opens things up. We could never before have considered staging a certain kind of musical; now, we’re negotiating to do one. Anything at all is now much more possible.”