Allen Theatre Complex

  • Client

    • Playhouse Square
  • Project Type

Design Achievement - The Tony Award-winning Cleveland Play House, the nation's first professional regional theater, and Cleveland State University were both in need of new theater facilities for their respective programs. At the same time, the historic Allen Theatre, originally built in 1921 as a 3,080-seat movie palace and later used as a venue for Broadway musicals, was only marginally used. DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky's transformative design for the renovation/adaptive reuse and expansion of the Allen Theatre provides a new home for both the Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University's Theatre Department within Playhouse Square, the nation’s largest performing arts center outside of New York City, and brings a cultural treasure back to life. The project supports modern professional and academic theater programs, while maintaining the theater's historic features; and generates long-term economic benefits for the organizations, as well as for a central, urban district. 

Scope Summary - The transformation created three new theaters within the 81,000 SF existing historic theater and a 44,000 SF addition. In order to accommodate repertory theater, which requires speech clarity without amplification, an intimate and contemporary 512-seat Main Stage proscenium theater with enhanced acoustical elements was designed within the volume of the existing Allen Theatre. Also within the existing theater, the original sloped under-balcony area was redeveloped into a cobalt blue lounge and amber hue pre-function spaces for lectures and other events. The project also included an addition inserted between the Allen Theatre and the Ohio Theatre housing the 300-seat Outcalt Second Stage, a transformational space capable of in-the-round, three-quarter thrust, runway, or endstage configurations; and the 150-seat Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre, a traditional black box. A pedestrian connector to the garage was reworked to provide an "inner streetscape," with a view into the Lab Theatre lobby and the historic brick of the existing Allen Theatre. The project anticipates LEED NC certification. DLR Group|WRL provided master planning, architecture, interior design, MEP and structural engineering, LEED/sustainable design, theater technical, historic preservation, audiovisual, lighting design, and IT/Telecommunications design services.

DLR Group acquired Westlake Reed Leskosky in September 2016. Today, the combined design expertise and resources of Westlake Reed Leskosky and DLR Group serve clients as a global, integrated design firm committed to elevating the human experience through design.

Awards & Recognition

Back to Top
  • 29th Annual Reconstruction Awards, Silver Award

    Building Design & Construction
  • Award of Excellence in Design and Construction

    Cleveland Engineering Society
  • Reuse & Retrofit of Older Structures Award

    Cleveland Restoration Society and American Institute of Architects (AIA) Cleveland
  • Ezekiel Award of Outstanding Achievement for Professional Audiovisual Design

    USITT Peggy Ezekiel

Allen Theatre Complex

Playhouse Square