H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture’s design for Theatre for a New Audience reflects the building’s function as a laboratory for modern theatrical interpretation of classical plays. The simple form of the building belies its structural complexity and intricate acoustical isolation from the city’s exterior and subterranean noise. The volume of the building projects outward from its site, with the second floor lobby dramatically cantilevering over the main entrance below creating a nearly seamless connection between the lobby and the planned Arts Plaza wrapping the front of the building. Cloaked in gunmetal grey metal panels, the exterior skin appears as a seamless, opaque surface in contrast to the front façade’s glass curtainwall suspended from above.
Visitors enter on the ground floor, following the serpentine pattern of the exterior plaza into the tall bright lobby. After proceeding up a central stair, they are greeted with wide views back to the Arts Plaza and out to the neighborhood. Here, the audience becomes part of the performance to those on the street below, before entering the Mainstage from the second floor.
The intimate darkness of the 299-seat proscenium Mainstage sets a stark contrast to the soaring lobby. The finishes and furniture in the Mainstage are all black, with no visual distraction from the activity on stage. Theatre seating on three levels—the orchestra and two low balconies—brings the audience close to the performers and is reconfigurable for changing performances.
The project is anticipating a high LEED-NC Silver rating from the United States Green Building Council. One of the key aspects in which it excels is the incorporation of industry-leading, energy-efficient LED lighting throughout, rare in a building of its type.
Like Theatre for a New Audience, the new building brings a powerful, yet nuanced new presence to the BAM Cultural District.