The story of Boston University’s recently completed Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre and College of Fine Arts Production Center is threefold:
- The new facilities enable BU College of Fine Arts School of Theatre to become a more unified and comprehensive program, with state-of-the-art facilities as teaching tools for all aspects of theatre production and performance. It is the first time in decades that College of Fine Arts performance and production students have been housed in the same location.
- The building is a tour de force of design, continuing to elevate BU’s presence on Commonwealth Avenue.
- With a full season of productions, Booth Theatre will quickly take its place among the many dynamic performance venues of the Boston area, providing students and Boston’s theatre-going public with additional cultural opportunities.
- The 75,000-square-foot state-of-the-art theater complex, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, has a 250-seat theater, production and costume shops, design labs, classrooms, faculty offices, and a landscaped plaza.
When Boston University sold its former theatre on Huntington Avenue in 2016, the sale brought with it three welcome opportunities for the University:
- The chance to unify the theatre arts program, which had long been split between facilities on Huntington Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue.
- The capacity to bring a newly strengthened artistic presence to BU’s Charles River Campus.
- The ability to create a state-the-art learning environment to educate the next generation of theatre artists and engage audiences in an immersive experience.
Unifying the design and performance tracks of the program had long been a goal of the School of Theatre and a means to accomplish it had been studied over the years. Beginning in 2015, the theatre consulting firm of Auerbach Pollock Friedlander worked with Boston University and the School of Theatre to review various opportunities on the campus and develop the space requirements for the new theatre and production center for which BU ultimately selected Elkus Manfredi Architects to design.
Built on an underused lot at 820 Commonwealth Avenue adjacent to the College of Fine Arts (CFA) facilities at 808 Commonwealth Avenue and across from the CFA’s second separate facilities at 855 Commonwealth Avenue, the new theatre faces Commonwealth Avenue in Brookline just over the Boston city line.
The Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre and College of Fine Arts Production Center encompasses:
- A purposeful, multi-functional studio theatre used for student theatrical productions
- Production facilities including scenery, prop, and costume shops serve as hands-on learning environments for students in the design & production program of the College’s School of Theatre
- Faculty offices, teaching spaces including a sound and lighting lab and student design studios.
- A landscaped plaza fronting on Commonwealth Avenue
- Fully landscaped buffer areas fronting on Essex and Dummer Streets.
Overall Design Concept
A well-known quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “To hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature” has been a longtime touchstone for the BU theatre program and became a central point of inspiration for the design idea of theatre as a mirror to society. Wrapped in a proscenium-like concrete scrim, the theatre’s shimmering 40-foot glass façade on Commonwealth Avenue tilts toward the street at a 14-degree angle, reaching out and inviting visitors in, while reflecting them back as well. The inspirational quote is now engraved on black metal panels along the edge of the mezzanine above the entry lobby, greeting all students, faculty, and visitors and reminding them of the world of imagination they are entering.
|Architect:||Elkus Manfredi Architects|
|Structural Engineer:||(FKA) Amman & Whitney / Louis Berger|
|Theatre Programming, Design, AV:||Auerbach Pollock Friedlander|
|Civil Engineer:||Nitsch Engineering|
|Geotechnical Engineer:||Haley & Aldrich, Inc|
|Architectural Lighting:||Auerbach Glasow|
|Landscape Architect:||Mikyoung Kim Design|
|Code:||Jensen & Hughes|