Stratford Festival to Unveil New Siamak Hariri Designed Theater

The Stratford Festival, North America’s largest classical repertory theater company, will unveil its new Tom Patterson Theater at a virtual event this Thursday, June 10 at 7 p.m. via an evening of live viewing on its YouTube channel. The new building, nestled in a riverside garden in this quaint town in southwestern Ontario, is fast becoming the heart of the Stratford Festival. The four-part documentary series of video tours and interviews will highlight “the exceptional architecture, the inspiration behind it and the technology that will make it one of the most remarkable theaters in the world.”

Stratford Festival’s new Tom Patterson Theater shines like a gem on the banks of the River Avon. Image by Ann Baggley.

The $ 70 million building was designed by Siamak Hariri, of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects, who won an international competition ahead of 3 other companies who were invited to participate in the design competition. 50 companies were initially asked to submit their credentials, with eight companies surveyed from this list, before four of them were chosen to compete with their designs.

The new building replaces the original Tom Patterson Theater, which has been adapted from an old curling rink, creating a culturally and socially engaging venue offering facilities for enhanced research and development. The result, according to artistic director Antoni Cimolino, is “a work of art, not a conventional building”.

The curved walls of the windows of the new Tom Patterson Theater at the Stratford Festival extend towards the River Avon. Image by Ann Baggley.

The theater was scheduled to officially open on June 11, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tom Patterson, the founder of the Stratford Festival. The pandemic upset those plans, shutting down the performing arts. The viewing night will mark the hometown hero’s 101st birthday.

Nestled along the banks of the River Avon, the 77,000 sq. Ft. Low-rise building sparkles like a gem. A shimmering bronze “veil” envelops its undulating form, a prelude to the buzz of activity and performance within. The curvilinear shape continues inside, emphasizing meticulous details and rich materials in bronze, brick, oak, hickory and Ontario limestone slabs. The theater and a rehearsal room are at the heart, with a lobby and lounges, a café, and a secondary performance space (dubbed the Forum) wrapped around it in a petal shape. When it reaches full maturity, the garden, designed as a terraced landscape with purple flowers, golden trees and long grasses sprawling across the site, will draw people in and across the site.

Rendering: The theater was designed to overlook the banks of the River Avon while reflecting its alluring qualities. Image by Hariri Pontarini Architects.

The viewing evening will be broadcast continuously for 36 hours. The four video documentaries, listed below, will remain available on the Stratford Festival website. Youtube channel and its subscription service Stratfest @ Home to followng the first.

  • Inside the Jewel: discover the experience that awaits you

Take a guided tour of what you’ll experience when you attend a performance at the Stratford Festival’s new Tom Patterson Theater.

  • An important space: an architecture that thrills the heart

Experts and visionaries at the Tom Patterson Theater discuss design for the human experience, architectural influences, building components and more.

  • Beyond Beautiful: the design inspired by a jewel by the river

Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Architect Siamak Hariri discuss the impulses and inspirations behind the new Tom Patterson Theater and guide us through the exciting journey from idea to realization.

  • Magic Machines: The Technology That Supports Art

Technical Director Greg Dougherty lifts the veil on some of the cutting edge technology that makes the magic happen behind the scenes at the new Tom Patterson Theater.

Rendering: In order to further improve the natural setting of the building, each of the pods will be supplemented by extensive gardens. Image by Hariri Pontarini Architects.

If you wish, you can join the conversation in our discussion thread dedicated to the project, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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About Douglas Mackenzie

Douglas Mackenzie

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