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Boston approves plans for The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance Home of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University


A performing arts center for the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.

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Home of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, the new David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance is designed to be a building that lifts the heart, inspires creativity, centers community, and welcomes people of all backgrounds. Created in close collaboration between A.R.T., Harvard University, Haworth Tompkins, ARC, and Charcoalblue, the Center for Creativity and Performance will be a place for public gathering, international research, teaching, and groundbreaking theatrical production.

Redner by Howarth Tompkins

“From our earliest meetings with A.R.T. and Harvard defining the design brief for the building, we have worked with them and our design team colleagues to create a series of spaces that are flexible, scalable, technically sophisticated, and, most importantly, welcoming and democratic to the audiences and artists who will inhabit them. Two theatres, complemented by technical shops, rehearsal spaces, offices, dressing rooms and indoor/outdoor public spaces, will collectively be a bustling hive of activity and connection in Allston. We’re excited to see these spaces built on North Harvard Street and enable A.R.T.’s next chapter of groundbreaking artistic production.”

Owen Hughes, Director, Charcoalblue

The center consists of an interconnected family of adaptable, multi-use spaces designed to embrace future change and support creativity. As one of America’s leading cultural organizations, housed within the world’s top research institution, the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance at Harvard University is well-placed to offer a model for the next generation of cultural architecture by encompassing the following core principles:

Openness – breaking down barriers to entry (both physical and cultural), offering inclusive, democratic architectural language, and extending a welcome invitation to all

Artistic flexibility - capable of practical transformation (avoiding fixed theatrical formats), extending performance beyond the confines of the stages, and supportive of experimentation

Collaboration – born out of close collaboration and rigorous peer review, the the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance will encourage new ways of imagining and creating across a spectrum of artistic practices

Sustainability and regenerative design - aspiring to deliver a holistic blend of environmental and social strategies to minimize embodied and operational carbon, maximize wellbeing, boost biodiversity, and enhance resiliency

Render by DeMaterial

“Theatre is about exploring our shared humanity in a space where people of all backgrounds come together and are invited to open their hearts. Through an inspiring and collaborative design process, our building aims to extend that open invitation to Allston and the wider world, and to provide a framework that supports the expansion of creative practices within a radical yet simple architecture of adaptable space, natural tactile materials, fresh air and light.”

Roger Watts, Director, Haworth Tompkins

The design responds to a world in transition, one in which cultural organizations have needed to rapidly evolve towards a more holistic mission in response to public health crises, movements for greater equality, growing political polarization, and climate and biodiversity emergencies. Beyond the production and presentation of theater, A.R.T. is seeking to achieve more with less intensive resources; to be an agent of change for a healthier population, both physically and psychologically; and to contribute towards a society that can thrive without breaching planetary boundaries. Made largely of timber and incorporating leading edge regenerative design thinking, the building is designed to be more supple, more porous, more adaptable, and more responsive.

Over the course of the design process, the building has undergone continuous refinement to dovetail the spatial and urban program with the existing Allston neighborhood, the emerging urban plan, and A.R.T.’s developing organizational vision to encompass the following key qualities:

Clarity - intuitive approach routes & natural desire lines from all directions of approach, embedding the building into an easily navigated psychological map of the neighbourhood and the city

Focus – a clear sense from outside of the entrance and center of the building from which the various building territories radiate

Navigability - good visibility and orientation around and within the building, enabling efficient use and reducing cultural barriers to access

Democracy – an architectural language and atmosphere that is, inclusive and welcoming

Variety – a family of non-specific spaces, allowing multiple options for different creative uses and gathering sizes

Connectivity – interplay and cross fertilisation of activity through visual connectivity, fluid space planning and adaptable infrastructure

Technical sophistication - to embrace new ways of working with emerging technologies, allowing creative freedom, efficient working and practical upgrading when required

Provisionality - pared back spaces which allow freedom for the A.R.T. team and incoming designers to set the ambience within the auditoria and studios for specific productions, and in the lobby to allow pop up events, catering, exhibitions, and more

Seasonal responsiveness - enabling the building to be enjoyed and used throughout the year without profligate energy use

Economy - simplicity of form and structure, rationality of construction for ease of maintenance, repair and recycling to optimise cost and carbon use in construction and use.

These are the qualities that have driven the design of the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance and which will enable the A.R.T. to embrace the communities of Allston, Cambridge, Boston and the wider networks of cultural research and theatrical production.

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“Working with Harvard, the A.R.T., and our design partners on this important community space draws on two of ARC’s core values: our passion for arts and culture and our commitment to providing carbon-neutral design. We look forward to opening night, and to continuing our creative collaboration with all those involved in bringing this inclusive new space to life.”

Philip Laird, Principal, ARC

photo of Owen Hughes on a dark blue background, smiling at the camera

To learn more about The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance Home, contact Owen


Supporting the industry internationally since 2004

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2020 UK Theatre Tonic Theatre Communications Group Carbon Literate Orginisation - Silver
photo of Owen Hughes on a dark blue background, smiling at the camera

To learn more about The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance Home, contact Owen

Contact Owen