February 14, 2008

A New Theater & Complete Restoration for Arena Stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For more than 50 years, the Arena Stage has been a cultural fixture at Sixth and Maine Avenue, Southwest, Washington, D.C. The theater has temporarily relocated to Crystal City, Va., so Clark Construction Group can renovate and expand the Arena Stage’s campus. The 29-month, 200,000-square-foot renovation and expansion will include the creation of a new performing arts space, the Cradle Theater, and extensive improvements to the existing building.

Project architect Bing Thom Architects’ design reflects Arena Stage’s role in the redevelopment of its Southwest Waterfront neighborhood. The new Arena Stage will be a largely transparent structure under a prominent cantilever roof. The sleek and amorphous roof design creates the illusion of wave-like movement. The cantilever points toward the Washington Monument, symbolically linking Arena Stage and the National Mall.

Arena Stage’s two existing theaters - the Fichandler and the Kreeger - will be completely restored and renovated to improve acoustics and upgrade technical capabilities. The theaters will be enclosed by a new, 45-foot glass curtainwall supported by custom wood columns. A third performance space, the Cradle Theater, will be constructed from concrete. The new, 200-seat theater will also serve to support the roof structure, which will create an expanded lobby serving all three theaters.

The glass curtain wall is designed to allow a transparency from the exterior and interior spaces. In the architect’s vision, “Arena Stage’s public spaces have been designed to be event spaces. Whether visitors are inside the theater looking out or outside looking in, they are always within the theater experience. It is always a theater; people watching people, actors watching audiences, and audiences watching actors. The inside-outside dynamic is what is meant and achieved by the transparency.” Additional work at Arena Stage includes building upport facilities, offices, underground parking, and a café.

The renovation and expansion of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for the American Theater is underway. The facility is expected to be ready in June 2010 for the 2010-2011 theater season.