The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
by REX and OMA


A theatre designed by Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX and Rem Koolhaas of OMA opens in Dallas, USA, this week.

Called the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, the project involved stacking both front-of-house and back-of-house functions above and below the auditorium itself.

The auditorium is surrounded by glass walls with blackout blinds that can be opened to reveal the city, simultaneously allowing glimpses of the performance from outside.

The seating and stage in the auditorium are designed to be reconfigured to suit different types of performance.

The upper part of the building is clad in tubular aluminium.


Click for larger image

Photographs are by Iwan Baan.

Diagrams copyright REX/OMA.

Here's some more information from OMA:


The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, a reimagining of a conventional theatre building, with a ground-level performance space and auditorium visible from the outside, opens in Dallas this week. The Wyly Theatre, part of the city's new AT&T Performing Arts Center, is designed by Joshua Prince-Ramus (partner in charge, now REX) and Rem Koolhaas (founder of OMA).

Unlike a typical theatre, the Wyly accommodates back-of-house and front-of-house areas above and beneath the auditorium rather than wrapped around it, liberating its perimeter – a glass façade with optional blackout blinds – for direct contact with the urban surroundings. Passersby have the chance to glimpse the action inside; the theatre itself, which seats up to 575, can offer views of the city of Dallas as a backdrop.

Rem Koolhaas, who will be giving a lecture in the Wyly Theatre on 15 October at 4pm, commented: "By stacking all facilities necessary for the functioning of a theatre in a single vertical volume, we create a situation where the technologies of the stage define an infinite variety of theatre arrangements, from the completely open to the completely enclosed."

With 12 storeys clad in distinctive tubular aluminium, the Wyly has a commanding presence on the south side of the AT&T Performing Arts Center complex. The building has a total area of 7,500m2 (80,300 square feet) and includes a cocktail bar, offices, costume shop, and a multipurpose rooftop space. The Wyly uses a state-of-the-art 'superfly' tower, able to efficiently move both scenery and seating, facilitating unprecedented flexibility and experimentation in the configuration of a theatre space: proscenium, thrust, traverse, arena, studio, and flat floor arrangements can be set up in less than a day.

Joshua Prince-Ramus and Rem Koolhaas's design for the Wyly Theatre started in 2004 at OMA's Rotterdam headquarters, and was subsequently developed in OMA's New York office. In 2006, Prince-Ramus left OMA to form REX, where he continued to oversee the construction of the Wyly. Since 2006, OMA's New York office has been headed by OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu, who oversees a range of projects including Cornell University's Milstein Hall, currently under construction.

Posted on Thursday October 15th 2009 at 2:13 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • RK_La

    Awesome! Pure genius!!

  • What if these guys stopped building diagrams?

  • aeolus

    Not to late to call in Frank Gehry. This thing looks like a power plant structure.

  • matt

    very good, they’re solving program problems and optimizing space and then having fun with detail features.

    maybe it’s a more sane process to build diagrams than to pretend do a diagram of a building? i really can’t see the point, it’s obviously an oversimplified way to explain the whole process, but seriously, after the eras of space’s sake, blob invasion or multiparametricised building, i’m glad to see Seattle Central Library and the Wyly Theatre and their stupid discourse / clever background

    the cladding seems a nightmare to maintain but the effect is stunning

  • testek

    i like the rem part in it

  • Richie

    Theatre as machine. I think it’s very cool. Pity there are so few photos of it here, loads more on ArchDaily.

  • Comment

    What if Mark stopped designing stark interiors?

  • Finally they finished the thing! I feel like this project has been going on for ages.

  • Glad to see this project got built, remember that the project got cancelled at one point. Can’t wait to see a monster-trucks exhibition there :)

  • R

    While Joshua Ramus claimed to leave OMA NY on an issue with authorship – saying things like ‘architecture is a collective approach’, ‘its not one person that designs, while Koolhaas gets all the credits’ and ‘we name everybody in the office alphabetically’ – within a few years he presents himself already as Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX and the company seems to be all about him. So it was not collective credit, but personal whim that made him leave the office after all.

    As a former OMA employer once remarked about him: there is something strange about taking over your wives name ‘Prince’ and calling your office REX.

  • C

    R is right… I remember the first lectures of Rex, talking about how they should teach in architecture schools that a building requires a lot of involvement from a lot of people, and that he didnt like ‘K’ taking all the credit…now he has become the incarnation of all the devils he promise to exsorsize…
    no wonder what the used to called him “captain america”

  • Ale gaddor

    really cool solution, but just it is what it is, a solution, nothing more,,, the idea is great but the design is horrible,,, lack of architecture,,, the structure and the program are just a solution,,, poor young architecture students they see this type of work and they say “this is pretty easy” … if a journalist (rem) could do this, so anyone can. : )

  • Evan

    I attended a lecture a few years ago by Joshua Prince-Ramos, and besides being incredibly physically intimidated by him, I have to say that I was also thoroughly impressed. I agree with many of the criticism here that his projects are pretty much built diagrams. I think his rational, problem-solving approach to architecture is fascinating, but the results do lack additional architectural detail, and seem to avoid other criteria in shaping the building.

    The Wyly Theater was a really interesting project to hear about because of the Dallas Rep Theater’s unusual situation, and the problems this presented to REX. The Dallas Rep is way more renowned and attracts way more productions than a theater in Dallas should because their original building was pretty much a warehouse, so they had no reservations in giving artistic directors complete freedom over the building: they could knock out the roof if they wanted to, tear stuff down, put stuff up, create an incredibly unique theater experience. How then do you design a new building that still allows for this same level of flexibility?

    See a brief version of the lecture in the form of a TED Talk he gave in 2006:

  • Jannike

    R, as a woman, I gotta ask what your (and your former OMA employer’s) problem is with him combining his name with his wife’s. Seems pretty chivalrous and open-minded to me. If that’s all your former employer has to say, seems to me like they were desperate to say something bad but didn’t have anything factual to say (perhaps like you?).