Performing Arts Center for Boston

Critic | Maryann Thompson GSD Core 3 Fall 2011

Coordinator | Jonathan Levi

The program was large: three performance arts theatres, a dance studio, a school, a restaurant, a cafe, among other requirements. The site was in Boston’s North End perched between a newly constructed ice skating rink and an existing sports recreational park. It was populated with trees and artificial shrubbery. The intervention seeks to reconcile the irreconcilable effects of placing so large a program onto a relatively small site.
The site is split into two halves: nature and sculpture. On the natural side, ideals of submergence, intimacy, and enclosure push the buildings mass underground, allowing for the park to extend itself from the ground to the roof, seamlessly. This half of the site is filled with private program that requires less exposure to public visibility, i.e. the school and dance studio. On the other half of the site, the half more exposed to public programs such as the theatres and restaurants, the building emerges as sculpture, as public spectacle, pulling to the surface the program within.
The buildings sweeping and curving gesture is both aesthetic and performative. On the submerged end, the sweep reveals an outdoor amphitheater adjacent to a summer fountain/winter ice rink. The center rotation of the building seeks to attenuate the heat island effect of the large exposed concrete surface of the structure by turning the green roof into a green wall. The same move also turns the schools windows into skylights for the exhibition space and the corridors of the theatres.