Page D1.1 . 08 September 2010                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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Wyly Theatre by REX and OMA

by Michael Cockram

The first thing that strikes a visitor to the new Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas, is that the building doesn't look like a theater at all. It's a basic box elongated upward. The typical theater configuration, with an auditorium surrounded by a public lobby and back-of-house support spaces, has been completely reshuffled by architects REX and OMA into a vertical stack.

That vertical arrangement helps the performance hall inside push the limits of flexibility in adapting to different performance types. It also allows unusually direct contact between the largely glazed ground-level hall and the outdoors.

The Wyly Theatre design emerged in response to substantial programmatic and structural challenges. It also weathered the split of the architectural team: OMA's Rem Koolhaas and his young American disciple Joshua Prince-Ramus. The partner-in-charge on both the Wyly and the seminal Seattle Public Library, Prince-Ramus purchased the New York City office of OMA from Koolhaas in 2006, redefining it as REX.

In contrast to the self-conscious exuberance of the Seattle library, the Wyly is generally restrained in its presence, serving as a foil to another nearby addition to the Dallas Arts District: Norman Foster's outwardly dynamic Winspear Opera House (previously covered in ArchitectureWeek).

Front-of-House, Below House

The Wyly Theatre is clad in an elegantly textured array of upright aluminum tubes that emphasize the theater's vertical arrangement. The tubes are pinched slightly at openings and punctured completely only once, at a large recessed porch.   >>>

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The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas, was designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and REX (formerly OMA's New York office), with executive architect Kendall/ Heaton Associates.
Photo: Iwan Baan Extra Large Image

ArchWeek Image

Serving the Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, and other performance groups, the Wyly Theatre's main performance space is designed to support a range of configurations. The elevated seating frames can be lifted into a fly space above.
Photo: Iwan Baan Extra Large Image


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