Text description provided by the architects. The new Topfer Theatre at ZACH, the regional theater for Austin and Central Texas, was completed in the fall of 2012. Andersson-Wise Architects designed the building and its surrounding outdoor spaces to define a dramatic, iconic image for ZACH within the context of the city, as well as to create a performing arts campus that engages its strategic site on Lady Bird Lake. The theater’s stage fly loft, with its elegant, vertical proportion, is visible from downtown Austin, whether one is approaching from the Lamar Street Bridge by car, or from the Pfluger Bridge on foot. A large rain garden-filled with native planting and bisected by pedestrian paths - forms the foreground of the building, with its transparent lower volume. The tower and gathering space, set within an idyllic native landscape, is the first impression of the new ZACH campus; emblematic of Austin’s environmental sensitivity, the image and experience will celebrate the beautiful site and its relationship to Austin’s most prominent park.
The contemporary and sleek structure is crafted from a refined palette of metallic-coated aluminum panels, channel glass architectural curtains, and concrete. The intimate, steeply raked 427-seat auditorium features a 70-foot fly tower, pregnant thrust and trapped stage with orchestra pit, movable acoustical wall panels and floor distributed displacement ventilation. The auditorium and lobby spaces are lined in waxed hardboard paneling. In the lobby spaces, the paneling transitions to luminous, white plaster on the second-level lobby space.
Sustainability initiatives to achieve LEED-Silver certification include high-performance envelope and HVAC design combined with strategic design elements that optimize natural light where needed and minimize heat gain. Whole building modeling indicates a more than 15 percent energy savings above the baseline code compliant model. Further, the rain garden processes and filters on-site storm water runoff, maximizing the ecological value while preserving a park-like setting and establishing a sense of connection between the new building and the site. The Topfer Theatre at ZACH participated in LEED NC2.2 and is slated to receive silver certification.