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watch: diller scofidio + renfro's restoration proposal for frank lloyd wright theater in texas

kalita humphreys theater makeover by diller scofidio + renfro


Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has recently shared new visuals and a detailed fly-through animation depicting a full restoration proposal for the Kalita Humphreys Theater in Dallas, Texas. Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the mid-century complex sits within a large public green park, in a disused shape. Indeed, years of accumulated neglect and additions to the 1959-designed theater have drowned out its architectural integrity, making it one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most overlooked creations.


In light of this, DS+R launched a complete revitalization plan to thoughtfully restore the theater to its original glory. Taking on a multifaceted approach, the proposal relies on four essential actions: ‘surgical extraction, selective reconstruction, careful preservation, and faithful reinterpretation of Wright’s design intent. […].While it is appreciated for its synthesis with nature, by the same token, it has never been truly celebrated as a standalone Frank Lloyd Wright building. The proposed makeover addresses this paradox,’ writes DS+R.

watch: diller scofidio + renfro's restoration proposal for frank lloyd wright theater in texas
all images © Diller Scofidio + Renfro



a four-step and multifaceted restoration 


The first phase of DS+R‘s four-step restoration plan focuses on surgically restoring the Kalita Humphreys Theater building without straying too far away from Wright’s initial design. On the one hand, the team will eliminate ‘excess’ like the 1968 lobby extension while carefully restoring mid-century details, including light fixtures, air grilles, door handles, window moldings, and furniture.


On the other hand, ‘in order to safeguard the future of Kalita Humphreys, the project must not only restore but also renovate the theater to support the needs of contemporary artists and audiences. Upgraded lighting, AV, stage infrastructure, and other back of house functions will provide much-needed flexibility for a wider range of performances. Seating will be re-raked to resemble the 1959 auditorium, but each row will be staggered to significantly improve sightlines. A central information point and historical center in the campus lobby will orient and engage visitors,’ explains DS+R. 

watch: diller scofidio + renfro's restoration proposal for frank lloyd wright theater in texas
outdoor performance venue



The following steps involve transforming the surrounding public green spaces into an authentic park and outdoor arts complex, active all year round. The green hub will also link to Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail, one of the most visited spots in Dallas. Program-wise, visitors will enjoy an outdoor performance venue, two pavilions, and a 100-seat black box theater with a walkable ceiling grid and an operable facade, both opening onto one of the courtyards. ‘Collectively, these and other enhancements will allow the theater to host more productions while honoring the beauty and integrity of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design,’ concludes DS+R

watch: diller scofidio + renfro's restoration proposal for frank lloyd wright theater in texas
master plan axonometric view

watch: diller scofidio + renfro's restoration proposal for frank lloyd wright theater in texas



project info:


name: Kalita Humphreys Theater Masterplan 

location: Dallas, Texas

client: The Dallas Theater Center

architecture: Diller Scofidio and Renfro (DS+R) | @diller_scofidio_renfro 

partner in charge: Charles Renfro

partners: Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Benjamin Gilmartin

project leaders: Kevin Rice, Andrea Schelly

project team: Fareez Giga, Kaitlin Faherty, Graysen Maxwell Babbitt, Lauren Ma

local architect: BOKA Powell 

landscape architect: Reed Hildebrand

construction manager: The Beck Group 

historic preservationHarboe Architects

structural engineer: Robert Silman Associates

civil & traffic engineer: Pacheco Koch

mechanical, electrical & plumbing engineer: Syska Hennessy Group

theater consultant: Fisher Dachs Associates

acoustics / audio-visual: Threshold Acoustics LLC

accessibility: Access by Design 

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