Baltimore Center Stage

Baltimore, MD, USA

Center Stage is a true Baltimore icon. Having survived a devastating fire in 1974, it has gone on to become the city’s leading professional producing theatre and now it has a fitting home to welcome the community.

Center Stage auditorium

The solution resulted in a radical redesign of the Head Theater to create a 400-seat thrust stage auditorium with greatly improved technical systems and a modular stage floor to enable format flexibility.

Housed in a 19th Century former Jesuit School in Baltimore, Center Stage was founded in 1963 by an ambitious local drama group. Some forty years since moving to the city’s historic Mt. Vernon Cultural District, it now welcomes its 100,000 visitors each season to its award-winning new home.

We provided theatre and acoustic consultancy for the renovation and expansion of the building, working with Center Stage’s former artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah and architects Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans company. Together we considered several approaches to adding a new ‘Third Space’ studio theatre as well as improving the flexibility of one of the two existing theatre spaces - the Head Theater - without reliance on movable seating towers or costly turn-around times. The aim was also to minimise the impact on production facilities whilst offering an improved connection between departments across the building and renewing and reworking tired amenities.

“I can’t say enough good things about [Charcoalblue]. They are responsive, they listen, they are sensitive to budget constraints... I recommend with no reservations.”

Del Risberg, Associate Managing Director

Center Stage exterior

Housed in a 19th Century former Jesuit School in Baltimore, Center Stage was founded in 1963 by an ambitious local drama group.

The aim was also to minimise impact on production facilities whilst offering improved connection between departments across the building and renewing and reworking tired amenities.

Center Stage auditorium

In addition, we reinvigorated the public spaces by incorporating an integrated lobby experience with custom projection mapping and distributed audio system.

The Head Theatre now has greatly improved technical systems and a modular stage floor to enable format flexibility.

We improved the flexibility of one of the two existing theatre spaces - the Head Theater - without reliance on movable seating towers or costly turn-around times.

Some forty years since moving to the city’s historic Mt. Vernon Cultural District, it now welcomes its 100,000 visitors each season to its award-winning new home.

The solution resulted in a radical redesign of the Head Theater to create a 400-seat thrust stage auditorium with greatly improved technical systems and a modular stage floor to enable format flexibility. The first season featured three variations of the thrust stage as well as an end stage configuration; theatre-in-the-round followed in Season 2. The Third Space becomes an expedient entity created within the enlarged volume of the stage between repertory shows. This 99-seat studio provides the company with an opportunity to program smaller scale works and new writing and educational workshops.

In addition, we reinvigorated the public spaces by incorporating an integrated lobby experience with custom projection mapping and distributed audio system. We were responsible for engaging the digital artists, designing the networked media system and coordinating the displays with the architecture.

Concept sketch of the Third Space at Baltimore Center Stage.

Concept sketch of the Head Theatre at Baltimore Center Stage.

We were responsible for engaging the digital artists, designing the networked media system and coordinating the displays with the architecture.

John with his Center Stage tote bag.

We were responsible for engaging the digital artists, designing the networked media system and coordinating the displays with the architecture.

Project Details

Client

Baltimore Center Stage

Project cost

$28m

Completed

2017

Awards

2017 Design Award, AIA Maryland
2017 Design Award, AIA Baltimore

Credits

Theatre Consultant

Charcoalblue

Structural

Keast & Hood

MEP engineering

James Posey Associates

Lighting Design

DoublEdge Design

Contractor

Whiting Turner

Photography

Peter Hegeman / Karl Connolly

John Owens

Talk to John about Baltimore Center Stage.

+1.212.645.0790

John Owens

Talk to John about Baltimore Center Stage.

Contact John

+1.212.645.0790