Trahan Transforms Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre with Advanced Fabrication

New Orleans-based Trahan Architects have wrapped the interior of Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in steam-bent oak. Working with FARO and fabricators CW Keller, the team was inspired by the style of furniture and design artist Matthias Pliessnig. Led by founder Victor F. “Trey” Trahan and partner Leigh Breslau, the renovation has created a signature piece of cultural architecture for Atlanta.

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Alliance Theatre. Image Courtesy of Trahan Architects

The Alliance Thearte renovation was designed around a series of goals. The new space had to be acoustically perfect for spoken word and musicals, with state-of-the-art technology used in live theater. It also needed to provide an intimate seating chamber for audience members that removed all separation from audience and performers, as well as from other audience members. At the same time, it needed to have good interior flow and be beautiful. 

Alliance Theatre. Image Courtesy of Trahan Architects

Matthias Pliessnig worked closely with Trahan to design the woodwork in the Alliance’s new space.  The team used 3D projection and modeling for the creation and installation. CW Keller + Associates created the steam-bent wood elements for the space, and FARO used scan data technology for precision installation. The walls and ceiling of the chamber and lobby are lined in solid stock wood. Each 1/2” x 1/2” rift sawn oak strand is sourced from fallen trees. Finished in hand rubbed dye and fire proof finishing, the surfaces will patina and age over time. In turn, exploration into steam bending techniques produced balcony and side terraces which perform acoustically.  The final material system is a marriage of contemporary digital technology and time tested hand craft. 

Alliance Theatre. Image Courtesy of Trahan Architects
Alliance Theatre. Image Courtesy of Trahan Architects

Trahan delivered a design that reduced the size of the orchestra pit and moved the audience as much as 15 feet closer to the stage.  This, combined with reducing seat count from 770 to 650 and curving the seating bowl and balcony, created a more intimate room where audience members can better connect with the actors and each other.  Two interior staircases provide access to the balcony level from inside the theater, and interior ramps allow ADA seating at three levels of the theatre – lower orchestra, orchestra, and balcony. 

Outside of the Coca-Cola Stage, the Alliance renovation also includes additional artist support spaces, including two new rehearsal halls, new dressing rooms and green room spaces, and a new costume shop.

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Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Trahan Transforms Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre with Advanced Fabrication" 08 May 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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