Center for Theater and Dance

Location: Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
Date of Completion: Spring 2018
Program: Creative and Performing Arts Center
Size: 56,000 SF
Sustainability: LEED Gold Anticipated

The Phillips Exeter Academy selected us to design its new Center for Theater and Dance, an effort intended to enhance and expand the high school's involvement in the performing arts. With construction starting in the first half of 2016, the building, erected on the site of former tennis courts, will help resolve the campus' current structural division: athletic facilities, housing, and woods comprise the south, while academic buildings, including Louis Kahn's Academy Library, are to the north. Using the concept of a gateway, we bridged the two halves with both architecture and landscape, creating a vessel that can be celebrated as a building, a place, and an activity. 

The Center will house a large main stage and orchestra pit, an intimate apron stage, and flexible teaching, rehearsal, and exploration spaces for year-round use. It will also include areas for techncial design, craft, and storage, and a large lobby for hosting events. We pedestrianized Gilman Street, which had previously cut through campus, to form a network of pathways that connect and increase accessibility to the Center and nearby buildings. This promenade brings the area to life, and is enhanced by a drop-off area we added to nearby Court Street. Inside, the Center embraces the notion of a beehive, where generous social spaces reveal glimpses of activity and create an integrated experiences that values goings-on in and outside the theater. Housed beneath a central atrium, the building's sense of openness welcomes all students, inviting them to participate or observe. 

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