Arena Stage
Mead Center for American Theater 2010
Client:Arena Stage Theatre
Project Category:Resident Professional Theatres
Architect:Bing Thom Architects
Completion Year:2010
Location:Washington, Dist of Columbia
Building Size:192,000 s.f.
A seminal American regional theatre, Arena Stage outgrew its facility long ago but was not able to take on a major renovation as quickly as it desired. FDA worked directly for Arena for over ten years to plan and design an ambitious transformation of its facility in collaboration with architect Bing Thom. The resulting Mead Center for American Theater transforms a landmark theatre into a stunning new complex with not only a new theatre, but also workshops, storage areas, rehearsal, public, and classroom spaces incorporated seamlessly into the design.

The 816-seat arena-style Fichandler Stage is now a focused and intimate room, with seating reduced to 650. The 514-seat Kreeger Theater, a modified thrust stage, was updated. Artistic Director Molly Smith requested a 200-seat flexible space, now the Kogod Cradle, to provide an intimate setting to nurture the work of new playwrights. This space offers artists a versatile but technically sophisticated venue without the pressure and financial expectations of the larger theatres. After the first show opened in this new space, Peter Marks wrote in the Washington Post, "The 200-seat Cradle, with its basket-weave walls, luxurious leg room and excellent sight lines, is itself an instant star, a grand platform for the showcasing of a new play."