Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan
The city of Perm is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, and WHY has been selected to design a new opera and ballet theater as part of a major urban regeneration campaign. Inspired by the region’s dramatic geology, the structure is imagined as a rock which rises from the geological outcrop above the valley. It’s also a highly porous form – instead of an enclosed bastion of high culture, the theater is wrapped in a glass curtain wall for maximum openness and transparency.
Our design seeks to dissolve the existing typology of the closed-off theatre structure, creating a building with views of the city on all sides. The design strategy was developed collaboratively by the WHY Buildings and Landscape Workshops, envisaging a flowing, dynamic space which locates art and nature at the center of urban life.
The building’s curved form and circulation spaces are inspired by the movement of dance and music. The square plaza of a traditional theatre becomes an organic curved surface which sweeps visitors up into the building, and ramps and walkways create a sense of flow throughout the building. These formal elements of the theatre extend to the surrounding park, where a series of undulating paths and terraced landscaping generate a sense of continuity between the built and natural environment.