Deep in the heart of Texas, two 48'-tall angels herald the arrival of a new performance center in downtown Fort Worth. Gracing the facade of the new $65-million Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, the sculptures have already created a distinctive civic landmark while solving one of the challenges the design team faced at the constricted urban site.
The 2,100-seat multipurpose house, which opened in May, is the first permanent home dedicated to the city's major resident companies anchors the revitalization of the historic Sundance Square district. The] Worth Symphony, the Fort Worth Opera, The Fort Worth Ballet, the Casa Manana musical theatre, and the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be showcased in the theatre in addition to Broadway productions using the venue as a versatile roadhouse.
Financed with private funding in large part driven by the efforts of the investor Edward P. Bass, who serves as chairman of the board of the nonprofit Performing Arts Fort Worth, Bass Hall was designed by Washington, DC-based architect David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services. Architect of record HKS (Dallas), theatre consultant Fisher Dachs Associates (New York), Jaffe Holden Scarbrough Acoustics (Norwalk, CT), architectural lighting consultant H.M. Brandston & Partners (New York), and mechanical engineer Altieri Sebor Wieber (Norwalk) were other major players in the design of the complex.
Schwarz, who had previously worked with local developers on a number of Fort Worth projects--including a medical center, an apartment/entertainment complex, and the renovation of the public library--was making his debut as the architect of a live performance theatre with Bass Hall. "I was particularly interested in looking at the traditions that lie behind the performing arts," Schwarz says, "and figuring out how to bring those traditions forward to make the experience of going to Bass Hall as significant as the experience of being in the room for a performance. We wanted to deal with the rituals of a community coming together to celebrate a performance, and to make the building itself an integral part of the downtown cultural fabric."
Adopting as his paradigm the classical horseshoe opera houses of Europe, Schwarz set out on a tour of close to …