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Collection by Marc Kristal

Bing Thom’s new Arena Stage

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There’s always a lot of talk in Washington about creating a “big tent” that embraces diversity, and now the capital finally has one—literally: architect Bing Thom’s new Arena Stage at the Mead Center, an arts complex—D.C.’s second-largest, after the Kennedy Center—that locates the company’s two preexisting landmark theaters and a new black-box stage, each of which offers different programming, behind 45-foot-high glass walls and beneath a sharply cantilevered 130-by-500-foot steel roof. Curtain up!

The original Arena Stage complex, designed by Harry Weese, included the 680-seat Fichandler Stage (1961)—the country’s...
Though one of America’s foremost companies, the Arena suffered from challenges both programmatic and urbanistic.
Artistic director Molly Smith said, “Bring everyone together, and give me lots of light,” Thom recalls.
Light is supplied by the enveloping glass walls, which accomplish multiple objectives.
“The way it was designed by Harry Weese, which I believe was correct, the audience comes in and has to go up six to...
The 18 columns, which are set at 36-foot intervals and range in height from 45 to 60 feet—and each support an average...
The vast roof, resembling an arrowhead launched into flight, is constructed from steel trusses and decking, and covered...
The ovular shape of the new space, built to showcase new and developing work, derived, according to Thom, from Molly...
“The outside is concrete and the inside is wood, like an oyster with a rough exterior,” Thom says of the Kogod.
The complex’s open-to-the-public components include a cafe and rock garden atop the Kreeger Theatre and a terrace that...
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