Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center has tapped Trahan Architects to lead the renovation of the Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre. A cornerstone member of the Woodruff Arts campus, which is also home to Richard Meier’s High Museum and museum expansions by Renzo Piano, the project will include a complete transformation of the Alliance Stage, theater rehearsal spaces, education spaces and support facilities. Selected from a competition of over 30 firms, Trahan’s design will be the first major renovation for the theatre since its construction in 1968.
Led by Trahan Architects founder Victor F. “Trey” Trahan and partner Leigh Breslau, the design of the 650-seat Alliance Theatre focuses on patron experience, fostering connectivity within the audience chamber; between performer and patron, and among the patrons themselves.
Principal Trey Trahan explains, “We should be thinking about a space that celebrates equality of each person and the diversity of Atlanta. We created a theater that responded to that elevated participation from the public.”
This is done by breaking the standard vertical threshold of a theatre – blurring the distinction between levels through sensuous wood forms and minimizing the separation between the orchestra and balcony levels. Comfortable seating linked with cascading staircases and terraces will place the audience closer to the stage, and accessible seating will be available on multiple levels, including areas in the center of the house not typically designated for wheelchair bound patrons. The result is a space that will feel intimate and inviting.
To achieve this effect, Trahan employed Brooklyn-based sculptor Matthias Pliessnig to help create the white oak forms that respond to the site lines and acoustical requirements of the theatre. This strategy follows Trahan’s interest in working not only with artists, but also with craftsmen to create textures that can withstand and thrive in spaces of high usage.
“This room will be beautiful at the end of construction, but will age to become even more beautiful as the wood ages and patinas. We hope that the geometry of wood surface draws you in and allows you to feel it as you move through the space,” says Trahan.
The theater’s inner lobbies and circulation spaces have been redesigned to wrap around the performance chamber on both levels, providing comfortable movement throughout, and integrated signage will animate the spaces and provide information on current and upcoming events. New back-of-house spaces including dressing rooms, lounges, offices and artistic support spaces can be found at a level below the stage, and a new mezzanine and full floor multi-purpose hall will be inserted behind the stage house for production and rehearsal support. A second rehearsal hall will replace existing offices on the the third floor, and on the fourth level, a double-height wardrobe shop will feature restored skylights to flood the rooms with natural light.
State-of-the-art technology will be featured in areas of the renovation, including installing lighting catwalks to make use of the stage easier and safer.
Location1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, United States
Design PrincipalTrey Trahan, FAIA
Managing PrincipalLeigh Breslau, AIA
Design DirectorScott Melancon, AIA
Design TeamRobbie Eleazer, Conway Pedron, Sarah Hussaini, Ayesha Husain, Wenyun Qian
Collaborating ArtistMatthias Pliessnig
MEP EngineerDLB Associates Consulting Engineers
Structural EngineerUzun + Case
Theatre ConsultantTheatre Project Consultants
Acoustical EngineerTalaske Group
LightingFisher Marantz Stone
Life SafetyJensen Hughes
Vertical TransportationLerch Bates
PhotographsCourtesy of Trahan Architects, Matthias Pliessnig