Chicago, IL: The September 13, 2012, dedication of the Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)-designed Dallas City Performance Hall (DCPH) opened one of the last pieces of the long-evolving 68-acre Dallas Arts District. The 59,000-square-feet concrete and glass structure houses a 750-seat proscenium performance hall. Unlike its now well-known neighbors — which include the OMA/REX/Joshua Prince Ramus-designed Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre(2009), Sir Norman Foster’s Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House (2009), I.M. Pei’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center (2003) — the new performance hall was built entirely with public funding.
Conceived as a “village for the arts,” the DCPH was designed by SOM with the input of hundreds of local artists, performers and audience members. The hall will be home to a number of Dallas’ smaller theater, music, dance and performance companies. The structure is designed as a series of linked linear pavilions with lyrically curving roofs. This modular approach allows its initial opening with a 750-seat proscenium hall and support facilities while providing for later expansion to include two 200-seat performance halls.
The building expresses a modesty that befits its publically funded budget and achieves an elegant simplicity through thoughtful planning and careful architectural detailing. The design provides a foil for its neighbors, the Wyly and the Winspear. Those provide strong, singular architectural identities while the DCPH’s “village” identity marks its distinctive, populist function within the overall Arts District. “The Dallas City Performance Hall puts every patron ‘on stage’ and reminds visitors of the hall’s place as an ‘everyman’s venue for the performing arts,’” SOM Partner Jeffrey J. McCarthy says.
The simple palette of materials, including glass, poured-in-place concrete bearing walls supporting structural trusses, steel-and-wood railings, and wood and fabric acoustical devices combine to provide a simple, machine-made expression for the facility. Within the performance hall, exposed concrete walls are varied with a striated pattern that provides visual interest while aiding acoustical performance. An LED-curtain provides a bold, technologically innovative prelude to performances within the space — and can be programmed to meet the varying needs of the hall’s diverse players.
The project was designed with sustainable principles in mind and is expected to attain LEED® certification. Landscaped lawns to the east and west of the building indicate the locations of planned phase two additions with each stripe representing another linear pavilion with its own distinctive ribbon-like roof that will add to the existing building’s unique rhythms.
The project team includes Corgan Associates, Inc., as architect of record, JaffeHolden as acoustical consultant; and Schuler Shook as lighting and theater consultant.
About Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering and urban-planning firms in the world, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with more than 1,500 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi.