Located on a prominent site on the banks of the Schuylkill River in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, this intimate theater for the Reading Area Community College provides accommodations for a wide variety of uses: lectures, conferences, drama and musical performances, film screenings, and associated academic events. Its components include a 500-seat proscenium theater with a balcony; a 2,500-square foot stage with modified fly loft for future grid and stage rigging sets; scene shop and storage; dressing and green rooms; and concession, coatroom, and box office within a generous lobby space that links the city and the college.
The design celebrates the building’s prominent site: the intersection of Penn Street Bridge and Second Street, a major entry point into the city. The south-facing lobby is enclosed by a transparent curtain wall, which both naturally and artificially lights one’s arrival to and departure from the theater. Entry to the theater lobby comes from the east and west, directly linking downtown Reading with the newly expanded heart of campus. The primary materials are zinc panels on the roof and walls, dark iron spot brick, and the glazed aluminum curtain wall. The sloping roof rises from the lobby over the house and stage to accommodate the fly tower while simultaneously screening the back-of-house and service components. A trapezoidal skylight serves as a beacon and a marquee to announce the building and its active presence in campus life.