Located in the Dallas Arts District, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre is one of two performance venues at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. In its design, the architects—REX/OMA—rethink the traditional programmatic arrangements of a performing arts space, vertically stacking the back-of-house on top of the performance hall to create a footprint that resembles an extruded cube. This enabled them to exploit the structure of the building—steel and concrete X braces—and establish an industrial aesthetic that would set the stage for a playful integration of light.
Theatergoers enter the building below grade via a sloped hardscape terrace accented with planting areas and embedded linear fixtures. These horizontal lines of light turn vertically upon arrival into the lobby, in the form of a grid of linear fluorescent tubes that extend from the ceiling. A unique play on the idea of a chandelier, the tubes also reinforce the verticality of the building and of the façade, which is sheathed in thin aluminum tubes.
In the theater, which seats 600 people, the arrangement of the stage and seating is such that the audience becomes part of the experience. Fluorescent lamps complement the theatrical lighting, halogen sources are used for performance lighting, and custom LED handrail fixtures serve as reading lighting.
Elsewhere in the building, as in the costume shop, the practical yet playful attitude toward light continues. Circline fluorescents provide required light levels but are arranged whimsically, expanding the experience of performance to all areas of the building.
Jury Comments: The lighting design transforms everyday sources into something sculptural and unexpected. • The lighting in the costume shop, with its ceiling of circular fluorescent lamps, is particularly wonderful.