Hawaiian performing arts center named nation's best new theater

The theater features barn doors that open onto a view of the Pacific Ocean.

April 01, 2014 |

Seabury Hall Creative Arts Center, a prep-school performing arts center on Maui in Hawaii, received the United States Institute for Theatre Technology's (USITT) highest architecture award—the Honor Award.

Three other venues—the SF Jazz Center, Bing Concert Hall, and Jerome Robbins Theater—received Merit Awards for 2014.

USITT's Architecture Commission presented the awards in a special session on March 28 at the USITT 2014 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Fort Worth, Texas. 

The Architecture Commission annually recognizes the best contemporary performance spaces built or renovated in recent years with Honor or Merit awards.

The Seabury Hall Creative Arts Center was designed by Flansburgh Architects, Boston, with associate architect Riecke Sunnland Kono Architects Ltd. of Kahului, Hawaii, and theatre consulting by Theatre Projects Consultants, South Norwalk, Conn.


Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University. Photo: Jeff-Goldberg/Esto


The $5.4 million arts center replaced an outdated facility with a new 500-seat theater and dance rehearsal hall on the grounds of Seabury Hall, a college preparatory school for performing arts students set on the high slopes of the Haleakala volcano on East Maui.

The architects used a steel shed structure for the theater, with wide barn doors that open the space to the natural environment overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The pre-fabricated construction of the theater and dance rehearsal pavilion kept the cost low. The project was completed in September 2012.

Two of the Merit winners are California projects—the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco and the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. The third is the renovation of a former rental roadhouse at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York into the Jerome Robbins Theater.

The $75 million Bing Concert Hall was designed by Ennead Architects, New York, with theater consulting by Fisher Dachs and acoustical consulting by Nagata Acoustics. It was constructed at a cost of $75 million as the new home to the university's music department and a venue for visiting performers serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area community.


SF Jazz Center, San Francisco. Photo: Tim Griffiths


The SF Jazz Center was designed by Mark Cavagnero Associates, San Francisco, with consulting by Auerbach Pollock Friedlander and SIA Acoustics, at a cost of $32 million. It is the first freestanding venue in the United States designed especially for jazz. The three-story center is comprised of the Robert N. Miner Auditorium, which accommodates 350 to 800 seats, plus a lab, rehearsal space, box office, café, and offices.

The Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov was formerly known as Theatre C, and is now a 299-seat, end-stage theater and main performance space completed in 2010. The architect was Wasa/Studio A, with Arup/David Taylor as theatre and acoustical consultant.

USITT's Architecture Awards are chosen based on creativity, contextual resonance, functional operation, use of new technology, and community contribution. Each project will be represented in a special exhibit at Stage Expo, where an awards reception will be held.

The adjudicators for the 2014 awards included architect Buzz Yudell of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects, theater consultant Robert Long of Theatre Consultants Collaborative, and Rick Talaske of Talaske Associates. Architecture Commission Vice-Chair William Murray oversaw the adjudication process.


Jerome Robbins Theater, New York. Photo: courtesy JRT

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