How the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater lights up Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, UT, USA

A recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts revealed that more Utahns per capita attend performing arts shows than anywhere else in the nation. Salt Lake City’s George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater is a celebration of Utah’s abiding creativity, community, and natural beauty. This 2,500-seat theater houses touring Broadway shows, concerts, and regional performance groups. The venue also features a 250-seat flexible black box theater — a vibrant home for local performances and community events.

2,500
theater seats
An aerial view of Eccles Theater with the Oquirrh Mountains in the background.

The theater's horizontal and vertical composition is in direct harmony with neighboring buildings and the Oquirrh Mountains.

A thriving arts district is born

A central component of Salt Lake City’s downtown revitalization, Eccles Theater joins the area’s impressive variety of performance venues to form a new arts district that links City Creek, a busy commercial district, with Gallivan Plaza, a major civic square. From Main Street, the theater’s transparent facade lifts the threshold between the street and the lobby, as theatergoers gather in brightly colored balconies and the Tin Angel Café — a popular pre-show destination.  After the performance, visitors stroll the lobby to view public art displays, linger in McCarthy Plaza at the south end of the theater, and head out to adjacent restaurants and bars.

An uplifting gathering spot for audience members, the theater's slender lobby soars six stories high with colorful balconies that arch toward Main Street.

People in Eccles Theater clap from tier one seating.

The auditorium subtly echoes Utah’s quintessential terraced landscape. Overhead, the deep blue ceiling sparkles, evoking the magic of a starlit night.

“The Eccles Theater and Regent Street project is a shining example of what can come from a city, county, and state agencies — private and public entities — working together. This collaboration is now one of the centerpieces of our vibrant downtown, and enjoyed by so many who live, work, and visit Salt Lake City.” — Jackie Biskupski, Former Mayor of Salt Lake City
People gathering outside in McCarthy Plaza

On the south end of the building is McCarthy Plaza, a flexible outdoor event space that doubles as a loading dock for a large-scale scenery and equipment.

People gathering inside the black box theater.
A stage full of musicians look out into the crowd.

More About the Project

Project Team

Principal Collaborators

  • Architect of Record: HKS Architects, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: Reavely Engineers and Thornton Thomasetti
  • MEP: BNA Consulting Engineers, Van Boerum & Frank Associates, Inc. and Buro Happold

Project Information

  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  • Clients: MOCA, Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County
  • Size: 185,000 sq. ft. / 17,187 sq. m.
  • Completion: 2016
  • Certification: LEED Gold
  • Firm Role: Design Architect

Awards

  • 2017, Silver Award for Best Public-Private Partnership, International Economic Development Council
  • 2017, Honor Award, AIA Connecticut Design Awards
  • 2018, Performing Spaces, WAN Awards - Regional Winner (Americas)
  • Principal Project Photography: Jeff Goldberg/ESTO