New Arena Theatre, Washington DC – Bing Thomas Architects
Designed to not only be a sparklingly new addition to the Washington theatre scene, the New Arena Theatre by Bing Thomas Architects also serves as an enclosure to the existing theatres in the arena family.
With big sweeping elements, and large expanses of glass the New Arena Theatre is quite a spectacle, and worthy of its location so close to the Washington Monument. The large glass frontage helps to create and enforce the notion that the theatre is very much a part of the surrounding urban fabric, by freely encouraging dialogue between the two spaces. Once inside, the theatre very much becomes its own space however, finished to a high standard with many features that encourage the idea that a visit to the theatre is an experience to be fully absorbed and savoured.
The design of the new Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater was inspired by the vision of Molly Smith, Arena’s Artishic Director,for ‘a theatre for all that is passionate, exuberant, profound, deep and dangerous in the American Spirit’. Building on Arena’s illustrious history and close relationship with the SW Washington community, the re-invented Arena Stage effectively doubles the facility allowing for state-of-the-art ethnology and modern amenities. It includes: spacious, workspaces for rehearsals, set design and construction; classrooms for education programs; expanded office space; community gathering spaces; a spacious centralised lobby, box office, and concessions; underground parking;and the restoration and preservation of the two existing historic theatres, the Fichandler, Arena’s original theatre-in-the-round, and the Kreeger Theater. In addition, a new 200-seat experimental theatre, the Krogod Cradle, supports the creation and production of new American plans.
A dramatic roof and glass structure encompasses the three theatres and offer views of the adjacent Washington Channel and Washington Monument. Through careful site design and bold sculpting of the structures, a renewed image for the neighbourhood has been created that fosters public activities in and around the buildings. The project has been a catalyst in the community spurring redevelopment of the surrounding areas, Bing Thomas Architects
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