Studio RED was selected to design the renovations for Alley Theatre in downtown Houston, Texas. The renovation is the theater’s first since opening in 1968, and is part of a $73 million capital campaign. The campaign is meant to ultimately enhance the audience experience and to attract some of the world’s finest actors, playwrights and other stage professionals.
While the iconic building at 615 Texas Ave. sees 393 performances annually and has hosted more than 8 million visitors in its 45 years, artistic director Gregory Boyd recognizes it’s time for a change. “The production style in the ‘60s was not big on scenery,” he said. “Most new theaters built at that time did not have wing space, fly space or a system of traps under the stage- the traditional means of having anything slide on stage from the side, fly in from overhead, or rise from under the stage. Many other theaters built in the same time have since been renovated to make them more flexible. But our main stage has had no major renovation since it opened. And technology has advanced light years in that time.”
The design, created by Studio RED partner Pete Ed Garrett, features a lobby with a skyline view, new audience amenities such as new seats and more seating for the disabled, new flooring and carpeting throughout public areas, double the restroom space, and a larger main stage fully equipped with a fly loft, wing space and an under stage trap system. The renovations also include a cleaning of the building’s exterior to restore its original color, and new air conditioning, plumbing and sprinkler systems.
After comparing the successful renovation of other comparable theaters, such as The Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center, Boyd is satisfied that the new design and planning will serve them well. “The result,” he said, “will be a theater that’s more flexible, light on its feet and better for the audience.”