The community theater project was the product of the senior year integrated studio project at Texas A&M, a studio which required students to consider projects holistically and develop solutions across all the building systems. The project won recognition at the College of Architecture's 2014 "Celebration of Excellence" as the top project from the undergraduate studios.
This "Stage for a Community" was envisioned as a new city center and public stage for the small city of Bryan, TX. In "What is a City?", Lewis Mumford describes a city as a theater of social action. That social interaction serves as the catalyst for the metamorphic development of a city. Through their progression, cities serve as stages for the performance of their inhabitants and buildings. This performance is acted out through urban growth, learning, and community interaction.
This black box community theater integrates into the city stage by becoming public space. Although Bryan, TX is a small town, its proximity to College Station provides a constant influx of visitors, especially on the first Friday of every month, when artisans and musicians set up pop-up markets around the downtown area. By elevating the black box above an exposed, public space, this project seeks to fold the urban performance of the city into the professional performance of a black box theater.
During the design process, we chose to create a basement level for the theater with a large ramped staircase that could double as a small impromptu amphitheater for public performances and street artists. This drop in elevation provided an opportunity for a unique experience as a visitor returns to the ground floor. Two 1:20 ramps traverse the length of the building and provide circulation from the lobby to the amphitheater.
Each floor demonstrates a dedication to a clean layout that communicates the public or private nature of each space. The multipurpose room on the first floor opens into the amphitheater to dramatically increase the space available to the public and facilitate the flow of crowds through the theater. The second and third floors contain support functions for the theater organized on the West, with public space placed on the East.