Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jerome Robbins Theater

Client
Baryshnikov Arts Center

Location
New York, New York

Established in 2005 by the legendary dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Baryshnikov Arts Center serves as a creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world.  In 2008 to support larger performance ambitions, BAC purchased an awkward, pre-existing 299 seat theater space within its building. The existing theater was constrained by a rigid concrete structure and suffered from poor sightlines, unacceptable acoustics, sub-standard theater technology and confusing circulation patterns all resulting in an uncomfortable space and a highly compromised audience/performer relationship. The new Jerome Robbins Theater, on the other hand, was envisioned as an intimate, state-of-the-art performance venue reflecting the excitement of the theatrical experience at its best.

With this mission in mind, think! was charged with transforming a dysfunctional theater space into a world class performance venue capable of presenting theater, dance and music all with equally high production values: perfect sound, clear views of the stage from every seat and state of the art technology within a comfortable and engaging performance space.  Achieving this goal required a complete reconsideration of this 42 foot by 75 foot box - virtually starting from scratch with its concrete walls.

Think! worked with the BAC to develop elegant solutions to the original theater’s shortcomings which started with creative solutions to the practical needs of the performance space which became the starting point for the aesthetic approach to the design as a whole: seating structures that actually enhanced acoustics, theater technology as an integral part of the space’s décor and audience circulation which became the sculptural expression of a functional need. In addressing and exploiting these opportunities, think! created an intelligent, useful and visually compelling space where performers can connect with the audience and productions can be presented at their fullest potential.  The addition of the Jerome Robbins Theater has expanded the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s programming, introduced new opportunities for artists to perform larger-scale, multidisciplinary works and tripled the Center’s audience capacity.

The Jerome Robbins Theater has been published in numerous design journals and received the 2014 USITT [United States Institute of Theater Technology] Merit Award for excellence in theater design. 

Publications and Awards

United States Institute for Theater Technology
2014 Merit Award

Architectural Record
July 2011
Performing Arts Building Types Study: 450 West 37th Street

Architect Magazine
February 18th, 2014
Four Examples of Strong Theater Design

Time Out New York
March 26th, 2010
37 Arts is dead! Long live Baryshnikov Arts Center! 

The Observer
November 17th, 2009
Baryshnikov Arts Center Opening LEED-Stamped Theater at 450 West 37th