Program: A six-story, 115,000-square-foot home for the Houston Ballet and its academy, located in the city’s theater district. The project includes nine dance studios, a dance laboratory, dressing rooms, a common room, and offices. An open-air pedestrian sky bridge connects the new steel-structure building to the ballet’s performance space next door, the Wortham Theater Center.
Design Concept and Solution: Imagining the center as a living billboard for dance, Gensler wanted to create a building that would showcase the activity of the dancers within. The architects drew inspiration from the proscenium stage, stacking double-height rehearsal studios atop each other so that passersby below see the studios framed by the center’s black granite facade. The architects continued this framing effect on the inside by surrounding the studios’ interior-facing windows with walnut planking. They kept the fixtures and finishes minimal and neutral-toned to further emphasize the activity of the dancers: long, lean lighting strips and clear glass railings (along with the lines of the walnut planking) provide a static backdrop for the movements of the dancers.
Total construction cost: $46 million
711 Louisiana, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77002