Harman Center for the Arts, Shakespeare Theatre

“The theatre’s total flexibility will allow artists to imagine different ways to produce, perform or think of a classical play. Our inventive design team has given us a space where the architecture of the environment will be created by the style of the presentation.”

Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre

The Shakespeare Theatre is a centerpiece in the revitalization of Washington’s historic business district. It was designed for maximum flexibility, both acoustically and in its physical configuration. The stage can be changed from proscenium to thrust to theatre-in-the-round. Because the 775-seat space occupies the first five and-a-half floors of an eleven-storey office tower our first task was to sufficiently differentiate it. We accomplished that with a three-level glass façade that includes a bay window that extends out to the street and participates in the “cultural corridor” of F Street. It signals the theatre’s identity and purpose, and engages the building with the street. Pedestrians can see inside to the lobby, and during intermission audience members have a unique view of the street. It establishes an ongoing dialogue.

The theatre was designed to address the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s expanded program and build upon the character of the existing hall. It is designed to accommodate dance and music, and the theatre can be reconfigured as proscenium, thrust, or arena, with accompanying variable acoustic configurations. The lobby can be used for receptions and events, and the transparency of the building helps foster a sense of community.

Client Shakespeare Theatre Company
Completion 08/10/2007


Photography Tom Arban


Awards See all project awards
2009 Real Estate and Construction Review – Top Projects in the Eastern Seaboard, the building of America plaque of Honor
2008 AIA DC Chapter Awards
2008 Business Week / Architectural Record Good Design is Good Business Award
2008 AIA Maryland Chapter Design Awards, Honor Award
2008 ARCHI-TECH AV AWARDS Competition in Partnership with InfoComm International®
2007 The Washington Business Journal – Best Real Estate Deals of 2007, Architecture
Team See full project team