Overture Center for the Arts+ expand detail
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
388,000 square feet / 36,000 square meters
Located a block from the State Capitol and overlooking the University of Wisconsin, the Overture Center for the Arts occupies a full city block of downtown Madison. For this project, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects assembled two existing theaters and an art museum into a unified performing arts center while adding a major concert hall. By renovating the existing venues and adding sensitively-scaled lobbies, shops, and restaurants, the large building maintains the pedestrian-friendly feel of the existing city streets.
The former Yost’s Department Store has been repurposed as an entrance to the complex. Inside, it features a multi-floor rotunda topped with a new glass dome. On the lower level is the Rotunda Stage, an indoor amphitheater.
The centerpiece of the project is the new Overture Hall, a 2,250-seat performance venue with a cascade of softly lit balconies and an undulating acoustic ceiling. Overture Hall has unobstructed sightlines, comfortable seating, excellent acoustics, and state-of-the-art technical support for the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Opera, and touring productions. The Hall’s grand glass lobby is a notable public space.
The Oscar Mayer Theatre, now the Capitol Theater, was renovated to provide better acoustics and sightlines, more comfortable seating, and improved support spaces. Some seating was removed and replaced with a new lobby of the original theater, creating a more intimate venue that seats 800. Historic details such as Grand Barton Organ, ornate ceiling, wall niches, proscenium arch and chandelier lighting were preserved.
The Isthmus Playhouse, now The Playhouse, was completely renovated as a 350-seat thrust theater for the Madison Repertory Theatre and others. The stage and back-of-house support areas were enlarged and traditional theater seating added. Three flexible black box theaters were also added.
The Madison Art Center, renamed the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, was also expanded. The museum’s triangular four-story lobby is clad in glass and contains a spiraling glass staircase, a prismatic form visible along State Street.