Doris Duke Theater in Massachusetts to be rebuilt

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Construction will soon commence on a new Doris Duke Theater at the renowned Jacob’s Pillow dance center in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Recently, Jacob’s Pillow announced its building plans to replace the original theater which burned down in 2020. The developer intends to rebuild the $30 million theater on a larger scale.

Pamela Tatge, the artistic director at Jacob’s Pillow, said Doris Duke’s design will enable artists to integrate technology into live performances. Therefore, she said it would attract new generation artists seeking a year-round space.

Tatge also mentioned that the new facility would integrate porous, indoor/outdoor space for creation, performance, and community engagement.

Design plans for the new Doris Duke theater

The new Doris Duke Theater will be more than twice the size of the original 8,500-square-foot theater. It will span across 20,000 square feet and have a 230-seat capacity, with a performance venue focused on dance. Besides dance programs, the facility will also provide support for other events and residences with a range of stage configurations.

The new Doris Duke Theater was designed with building circulation spaces positioned around multiple entrances and exits. All entry and exit points are linked by two lobbies, positioned at the western and eastern sides of the building. The western lobby will have a welcoming area for entrants referred to as the “artist quadrangle”.

This area also includes spaces for talks and exhibitions. While the eastern lobby will provide a space for artists to rehearse which can also serve as a secondary reception venue.

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The new Doris Duke Theater will have improved audio and lighting capacities. In addition, flexible locations for stage management and sound will also be available on the property. There will be windows and skylights to bring in natural light, and curtains to darken the areas when necessary. 

Furthermore, the building’s technology will include a digital spatial audio system to track dancers alongside the moving sound images. It’s a feature that will enable interactive video content and the integration of live and recorded performances.

The project team

The design team for the new Doris Duke theater development includes Marvel as the architect of record and landscape architect. While Charcoalblue is the project’s theater and acoustic consultant.

Jeffrey Gibson will handle consultations on indigenous design values and the project’s relationship to the homeland of the Mohican people.