Interior of Kreeger Theater.
In the early 1970s, Weese designed another venue for Arena, the 500-seat Kreeger Theater, which has also been refurbished and its acoustics improved.
Terrace and Rock Garden
You don't need a ticket to eat at the cafe, built atop the Kreeger Theater. The terrace space is accessible to anyone from Maine Avenue. A rock garden adds a Zen-like touch, but solves an important problem: limiting weight on top of the historic structure.
With three theaters and multiple shows in repertory, rehearsal space is always in demand. And now Arena has what it needs: Two huge new halls that will give the company extraordinary flexibility.
Theater is the ultimate do-it-yourself art form, and now Arena has state of the art costume, scenery, upholstery and painting shops.
Interior of Kogod Cradle arena.
The most innovative and daring feature of architect Bing Thom's complex may be the new 200-seat theater, which helps support the roof while reinventing the small theater space. Inspired by the sculpture of Richard Serra, the Cradle is approached through a narrow, semi-circular passage that takes audiences on a journey away from the everyday world. Inside, woven wooden slats compensate for acoustical problems, and make the audience feel like it is sitting in a giant wicker basket.
Architect Bing Thom next to one of his signature features, a parallam column. There are 18 of them at the Arena Stage ranging from 45 to 60 feet tall.
Bing Thom's huge wooden columns are a first in Washington. Made of super-strong composite, they give the modern design a natural touch, each supporting more than 400,000 pounds of weight. At their base, they taper to a ballerina-like point. Above, wooden spars help support the glass wall.
Main lobby area with Fichandler Stage at left.
Rather than abandon its existing, landmark theater spaces, including the Fichandler Stage, Arena preserved them, incorporating them into the new building. Designed by Chicago architect Harry Weese, who also designed Washington's Metro, the 680-seat arena-style Fichandler needed a lot of love, including better acoustics and sound insulation.
What's Molly Smith doing? A fishbowl office puts the artistic director on display.
An administrative suite brings all of Arena's departments, from dramaturgy to community engagement, under one soaring roof.