27 May Tom Patterson Theatre / Hariri Pontarini Architects
Tom Patterson Theatre / Hariri Pontarini Architects
Text description provided by the architects. The new Tom Patterson Theatre at the Stratford Festival is a highly anticipated addition to the Canadian cultural landscape. Designed by Siamak Hariri, founding partner with Hariri Pontarini Architects, this shimmering, state-of-the-art venue embraces its riverside park setting.
Hariri said the festival’s ambitions set a high bar for the project, which the Toronto-based practice won in an international design competition. “They wanted an exceptional building with new programs that would enhance the festival and this community for decades to come,” said Hariri. “We sought to create an emotional experience through architecture that complements the magic of transcendent works of theatrical performance.”
The 7,150sm (77,000sf) theatre is situated on the banks of the Avon River in Stratford, Ontario. Vibrant transparency runs its entire length with a lustrous façade that ebbs and flows in step with the river. This organic, curvilinear form creates quiet folds and eddies of encounter across a sequence of carefully considered spaces that flow from one to another. Panoramic garden and river views dissolve the line between indoors and out in this LEED Gold registered design.
Set against the sinuous veil of the bronze mullioned curtain wall that defines the public rooms, the horseshoe-shaped theatre is wrapped in gently curving walls of sand cast brick with mortar smooth to the surface to resemble stone. Inside the wood-lined auditorium, 600 custom seats surround an elongated thrust stage, creating a theatrical setting of unparalleled intimacy and acoustic excellence.
Close collaboration with the festival’s set and technical designers optimized the versatile performance space to meet the demands of a repertory schedule where different shows can run on the same day. Curved walls and reflectors beneath catwalks support the finely-tuned acoustics in a room that can achieve total sound isolation as well as total darkness.
The public rooms include Lazaridis Hall, a versatile space for up to 250 people that can be configured for cabaret-style performances, screenings, and panel discussions. Two 4.9-metre-high (16ft) custom walnut acoustic doors open onto the lobby or acoustically separate the space for concurrent events.
New play development and education programs now have permanent homes at the festival in the Dinner Rooney Workshop. For donor patrons, the Spriet Members’ Lounge features a contemporary fireplace in a dramatic space with wraparound glazing that gently tapers beneath a wood-clad ceiling.
Three distinctive bars crafted from red, yellow, and white patterned marble anchor meeting points with exceptional views reinforce the connection between the theatre design and its natural setting. Adjacent to the lobby is a skylighted café that opens onto a riverfront terrace.
Amenity spaces are fully accessible throughout, offering a range of viewing options in the auditorium for people with disabilities. Back-of-house there is a dedicated rehearsal hall, accessible dressing rooms, a green room and a company lounge.
Sustainability initiatives include locally-sourced materials, low-energy lighting, and radiant in-floor heating, all part of a comprehensive design approach for LEED Gold designation, which is a rarity among performing arts buildings. The stage lighting is one of the first all-LED systems in use.
New community gardens provide riverside vistas and strolls through plantings layered with indigenous species for the spring-through-fall performance schedule of North America’s largest repertory theatre company. The new theatre is one of four festival venues and replaces a previous and inadequate Tom Patterson Theatre on the same site.