Alliance Theatre Transformation

The Alliance Theatre, founded in 1968, is a Tony award-winning regional theatre located within the celebrated Woodruff Arts Center campus. The initial phase of work focuses on the chamber, its lobby and artistic support facilities which will be gutted to the original concrete enclosing walls. The transformation pulls the 650 seat chamber 10’ closer to stage. The planning of the chamber optimizes site lines, utilizes ramping in lieu of lifts and integrates stairs to provide access to all levels. Each surface is tuned acoustically to deliver world class theatre to its patrons.

The design team felt a responsibility to remove the separation between balcony and orchestra – challenging historic notions of segregation and discrimination. All seating zones can be accessed from every entrance within the chamber – a unifying planning feature of the Alliance Theatre Transformation.

Atlanta, Georgia

70,000 SF

Under Construction: Opening Fall 2018

Project Team
Trey Trahan, Leigh Breslau, Scott Melançon, Brad McWhirter, Robbie Eleazer, Conway Pedron, Ayesha Husain, Sarah Hussaini, Wenyun Qian, Andrew Fu, Sarah Cancienne

Matthias Pliessnig, Uzun + Case, Theatre Projects Consultants, Talaske Group, DLB Associates Consulting Engineers, Cost+Plus, Fisher Marantz Stone, Thirst, Jensen Hughes, Lerch Bates

AIA New Orleans Honorable Mention for Unbuilt Architecture, 2017

Featured , Cultural , Performing Arts , Artistry , Responsibility , Collaboration

My thought was, let’s dream big… and one thing we identified was a world-class theatre that welcomed everyone, that removed visible and invisible barriers. We had the courage of our aspirations. And the question became: How do we get there?

-Susan Booth, Alliance Theatre Artistic Director
Collaboration with sculptor Matthias Pliessnig

During the design phase for the Alliance Theatre Transformation, Trahan embarked on an artistic collaboration with renowned sculptor Matthias Pliessnig. This process elevated the shaping and tectonics of the chamber and lobby. The steam bending process perfected by Matthias allowed the architect to combine the precise digital modeling required by the acoustician, with the craftsmanship and beauty of the design vision. This collaborative process produced acoustically tuned forms that amplifies the artistry performed on the stage.

The final material system is a marriage of contemporary digital technology and time tested hand craft. The 1:1 mock up series produced by Matthias Pliessnig helped the design team test formal gestures within the theatre at the scale of furniture.

This room will be beautiful at the end of construction, but will age to become even more beautiful as the wood ages and patinas. We hope that the geometry of wood surface draws you in and allows you to feel it as you move through the space.

-Trey Trahan

Finish testing for the steam bent millwork is conducted at 1:1 scale. Our team developed a work flow between the 3D model and the physical samples in order to iterate the color and quality of the finish. We chose an indicative location within one of the complex terrace shapes to explore the effects produced in the real world.

The walls and ceiling of the chamber and lobby are lined in solid stock wood. Each 1/2” x 1/2” riftsawn oak strand is sourced from fallen trees. Over time the wood will patina by use and human touch. It is finished in hand rubbed dye and fire proof finishing.

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