MIT Theater ArtsMassachusetts Institute of Technology

The new MIT Theater Arts Building provides, for the first time in the program’s history, a single location for all program spaces: concept development, production, rehearsal and performance. The conversion of a generic industrial building into an innovative theater venue creates a vibrant destination at the western extent of campus. To invite attention into the process of making & performance, large framed apertures break through an existing patchwork brick facade. The transformed building envelope expresses the activity within while maintaining remnants of the existing structure. The new program includes rehearsal spaces, design and faculty studios, offices, costume and scene design shops, dressing rooms, and a two-story theater performance space. Public mixing zones are dispersed throughout for arts and installations.

designLAB collaborated closely with the user group to define the theater programming requirements. The resulting two story “experimental” black box performance space provides maximum flexibility. The theater can quickly transform and adapt to a variety of teaching and performance modes. Because the team designed several different types of “hang-out spaces” within the building, students often elect to stay and work, eat, or hang out before or after classes. This has driven impromptu design discussions, collaboration, and critique and has given the department the opportunity to engage students in a fully-immersive multi-disciplinary design and production experience.

Every space in the building, as well as every surface, handrail, and detail, is designed to support theater arts education. As an open and flexible “blank canvas,” the building challenges students and faculty to continually experiment and innovate through the arts, while its technical support enables each new class to find new manifestations of that expression.