Christian Long

Joshua Prince-Ramus: Builds a Theatre that Remains Itself

In TED Talks on May 5, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Reflection by HAGEN F.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Joshua Prince-Ramus: Builds a Theatre that Remains Itself

Joshua Prince-Ramus starts off by saying that architecture has become an art for simply design and not the actual beneficial use of space. New architects have become cowards and have taken steps backwards to be safer and design buildings that will keep them in business. Architects nowadays do not do too many remarkable projects, but instead take the ‘safe route’ of designing. The aspects of creation and execution have slowly drifted apart in modern architecture. The creation of the buildings has slowed while the execution aspect has slowly reverted back to a state of caution.

Creation can not just be a singular, individual issue, but must be a collective discussion between client and architect. The final result must and can not be known by either member of the design process. The architects must make design suggestions to the client, while the client specifies what it is that they want. A consensus must be reached by the two parties and then the design becomes finalized, ultimately resulting in something that appeals to both sides of the ‘debate.’ Both people should be able to critique and design, but lately that is not the case with modern architecture.

Bearing this in mind, Ramus and his team created a new Dallas Theatre for the patrons of the arts and the artists. Initially, the building was a large, horrible-looking shack that had a large benefit. The building was nothing special, and therefore anything could be done to the building such as drilling a hole straight through the middle of the stage. Other stage, like on Broadway and more prestigious venues, this can not be done, which gave the Dallas Theatre an advantage. Anther advantage was that the stage could be rotated to change into four different styles. The theatre was going to be redone though, but the people in charge of the Dallas Theatre wanted to keep that same ability to redesign at will and change the stage. So Ramus and his team were presented with a challenge, and what ultimately became the manifestation was something very magnificent.

The challenge was to create a stage and theatre that could allow for various designs to be constructed easily. There needed to be minimal effort required to create different venues and there needed to be some sort of “theatre machine.” The stage needed to be able to change with the push of a button and very few workers. Ramus’ team went to work and created a venue so unique and special that it really deserves some sort of award. The stage pieces and auditorium pieces can be lifted up and rotated to create different styles of stages. A balcony seating area can be flied in or out when needed to give extra, heightened seating for the patrons. Another addition was the use of large pivoting doors that led directly into the performance hall. These doors could be ‘pivoted’ open and allow for mass movement into or out of the theatre. The theatre was surrounded by large glass windows that allow the backdrop of most performances to be the skyline of Dallas. Now if the background needs to be simply dark, then shades can be drawn over the windows. Lastly, the on ground floor of the theatre, a corner of the building can be removed to again allow mass movement into or out of the theatre. This allows an easy way to move in large objects to the theatre such as cars or large animals. This can be used for other things, and not just for the benefit of the actors and plays. Car shows and similar displays can be showed in the theatre for revenue to the Dallas Theatre. This allows for more money to the owners of the Theatre and provides another advantage over other theatres in the near area.

The Dallas Theatre provides a good deal of advantages to the owners and can be used to draw more attention to their venue. This in turn brings in more money, which is necessary for the continuation of business. Ramus used the idea of creation and execution with the client in order to produce a magnificent stage. He knew what the client wanted and created something along those parameters. Then once that design was drawn out, he consulted the owners of the Dallas Theatre and a final, beautiful project was produced. Through better, less cautious architecture, an architect can design a solution that benefits and exceeds the wishes of the client, if the architect consults with the client.

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