University of North Carolina

Center for Dramatic Art

Bringing theatre arts together under one roof.

The existing performing arts theater on this southern university campus housed a non-profit professional repertory company and the graduate programs of the university in a triangularly shaped box-like structure. The facility was inadequate for both. Additionally, department functions were scattered in six buildings across the campus which limited interaction between students, faculty and staff members and restricted undergraduate student exposure to the professional theatre. The challenge was to bring together the entire program, including teaching, rehearsal and performance, in an economical solution that establishes a strong identity for the university

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A better fit for the campus.

An addition to the theater features a curving colonnade with a glass clerestory and creates a new identity for the entire department. The curving form of the addition minimizes the sharp-edged facade of the existing building and acts as a forecourt to the performance theater within. Its sweeping form engages the street edge, creating a new major entry sequence onto campus. A warm brick was selected to complement the material vocabulary of the campus, together with an abundance of glass to animate the site at night when most performances take place.

Unc black box performance

Shared resources impact learning.

The new space allows teaching, rehearsal and performance elements to act synergistically between the university and the professional company, giving students valuable exposure to the profession. With all departmental functions and professional performance needs provided for, including the costume/wardrobe operations, paint/scene shops, and studios for movement, voice and acting practice, the new facility is truly a unified workshop for discovery rather than a dry academic space. This exploration into blurring the boundaries between academic training and professional exposure has dramatically raised the profile of the university’s graduate program in the theater arts.

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