Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Performance School New Campus
Concept, 2017

Conventionally, private and public programs are physically and visually separated from each other for user efficiency and experience. For theater spaces, the preparations for performances are always conducted in a “black box” where the public will not see how the performers exercise. A series of performative programs from the Boston Lyric Opera and Berklee College of Music are identified and conceptually bleed into the public circulation to form a strong visual and physical connection. This allows the general public to experience the artists practicing in a more immersive way. To perform such operation architecturally, an asymptotic double helix is introduced to the central atrium.

The asymptotic double helix is both an extension of Berklee College of Music (school) and the Boston Lyric Opera (theater). The diagram above illustrates the iterative process of two single helix intertwining with each other. The light represents the school circulation and the dark represents the theater circulation. The two single helix starts from the same ground position and then slowly deviate from each other. The process of deviation creates a series of close encounters between the school programs and the public programs. Yet the two helix never touches one another, hence the circulation is separated.

The building has two major atriums, one horizontal, one vertical. Together they manifest a maximalistic approach for presenting the phenomenon of culture production to the public.The vertical atrium dedicates to the process of production, with visual connections to the practice rooms and school facilities, and direct contact to the cultural products such as books and videos. While the vertical atrium acts as a permeator that brings out the contents of the theater, the horizontal atrium acts as an amplifier for such contents. With sitting ramps and cantilevered stages, the horizontal atrium is broadcasting the performance to the outside environment.The overlaid plan drawing of the left shows the composition of the dual atrium. The upper one is horizontal atrium and the lower one is vertical atrium.

The character of façade expression is influenced by the two institutions in the building – Berklee College of Music and Boston Lyric Opera. The design of the façade composition reflects their dual existence. Viewing from different sides, the identity of the building shifts itself according to the institutional difference. The Berklee College of Music side has a more moderate expression with uniform floor slabs accentuated. The double helix as an outlier breaks out the façade boundary implying the idiosyncratic quality of the space behind. The Boston Lyric Opera side adopts a more dramatic expression. The golden object with mystified pattern floating over the horizontal atrium signifies its performative programs.