Dill Center for the Performing Arts & Stuart Theatre at Brown University

November 7th, 2009

The Dill Performing Arts Center and Stuart Theater project had to not only link architecture from the past and present, but also separate theatre, dance, and administrative areas. The unifying solution provided by LLB Architects enhanced the cross campus walkway network with granite marker icons and harlequin paving systems. A computerized lighting system incorporated marking lights and linear archway lighting to indicate when the various theaters are active.

The complete recasting of the interior of a historic McKim, Mead & White building included the creation of an acting studio from a sub-basement space, incorporation of an orchestra pit and trap room level from space between existing floors, and the addition of a new balcony with light, sound, and director booths. The project also encompassed the complete renovation of the lobby, auditorium, and backstage areas. Bringing character to the original “shoebox” design of the auditorium demanded some creative thinking by LLB. Strategic curved walls were created to enhance visual appeal as well as acoustics. A railing hugs the wall and accentuates the flow of the space, and the addition of a balcony and layered curvilinear liner, which unfurls onto the proscenium arch, makes the space more intimate and distinctive.

The lobby of the Stuart Theatre borrows dramatic shapes and materials from the auditorium it serves. Hovering over the jewel-like ticket booth is a curvilinear form — a nod to the forms found within, as well as the drapery beneath the theater’s symbolic masks of comedy and tragedy. LLB designed the lobby’s staircase to both bring patrons up physically to the new balcony and raise their sense of anticipation as they prepare to take their seats. A flowing brass railing, which appears to levitate along both sides of the sweeping staircase, draws the eye upward and adds to the drama of this welcoming environment. A sculptural lamp at the top of the stairs reflects not only light but also the other design elements of the lobby.