The new Topfer Theatre at ZACH, the regional theater for Austin and Central Texas, was completed in the fall of 2012. The building and its surrounding outdoor spaces define a dramatic, iconic image for ZACH within the context of the city, as well as create a performing arts campus that engages its strategic site on Lady Bird Lake. The theater’s stage fly loft is visible from downtown Austin, whether one is approaching from the Lamar Street Bridge by car, or from the Pfluger Bridge on foot. A large rain garden - filled with native planting and bisected by pedestrian paths - forms the foreground of the building, with its transparent lower volume. Emblematic of Austin’s environmental sensitivity, the image and experience celebrates the site and its relationship to Austin’s most prominent park.
The contemporary structure is crafted from a refined palette of metallic-coated aluminum panels, channel glass architectural curtains, and concrete. The intimate, steeply raked 427-seat auditorium features a 70-foot fly tower, a trapped stage with an orchestra pit, movable acoustical wall panels, and floor distributed displacement ventilation. The auditorium and lobby spaces are lined in waxed hardboard paneling. In the lobby spaces, the paneling transitions to luminous, white plaster on the second-level lobby space.
Sustainability initiatives include high-performance envelope and HVAC design combined with strategic design elements that optimize natural light where needed while also minimizing heat gain. A rain garden processes and filters on-site storm water runoff, maximizing the ecological value while preserving a park-like setting. The Topfer Theatre at ZACH participated in LEED NC 2.2 and is has received receive silver certification.