Drawing inspiration from San Antonio’s rich vernacular of color, pattern and public celebration, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts offers a diverse architectural experience capable of continuous transformation in response to programmatic and environmental influences.
These themes are fully expressed in the 1,768-seat main performance hall, with a moveable floor system that allows the room to rapidly change its seating and stage geometry. Lighting innovations further transform the hall through programmable, multi-colored LEDs embedded in the balcony fascias in a pixelated arabesque pattern—abstracted from the building’s historic details—that dance between traditional ornament and digital interactivity. The colors, intensity and patterns of light afford the ability to change the mood of the room between performances or even during a single performance. Effects might range from a soft glowing candlelight ambiance for symphonic performance, to complete blackout for opera and ballet, to intense bursts of color for a popular music act.
The restored historic stone facades are illuminated to accentuate the rich detailing and materiality in the urban streetscape. Wrapping new program volumes of the Tobin Center exterior, a porous, shimmering metallic veil sculpturally expresses and celebrates the cultural life of contemporary San Antonio with references to the filigreed forms of Spanish Colonial ironwork and the filtered daylight of the River Walk landscape. Comprised of digitally designed and crafted aluminum panels, the facade veil both reflects the sky and captures daylight. The veil also filters the bright South Texas sun, creating complex patterns of light and shadow—much like trees over the adjacent River Walk below. As night falls and the River Walk’s many lighting displays transition to a festival-like atmosphere, the veil further transforms, becoming a lighted scrim with embedded, programmable LEDs that showcase custom light arrays against the night-time skyline.