Marion Oliver McCaw Hall - Interior

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall


Seattle, Washington


Seattle Center Foundation

Collaborators +

General Contractor: Skanska Construction

Acoustics: Jaffe Holden

Theater Planning: Schuler Shook

Structural Engineering: Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Mechanical Engineering: CDi Engineers

Electrical Engineering: Sparling

Civil Engineering: Akb Engineers

Landscape Architecture: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

Graphics/Signage: Wesselman Pellecchia Associates

Lighting Design: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design

Project Size

Renovated area: 280,000 square feet

Seating Capacity

2900 performance hall

Project Status



Architecture, Interior Design, Renovation + Adaptive Reuse

The extroverted expression of the architectural design embodies the classic forms of theater, re-interpreted in a contemporary architectural medium. An array of scrims and a 5-story glass wall define the lobby with compositions of multi-colored light to cast a series of visual events—inviting the entire community to participate. Nine large-scale metal mesh scrims frame the promenade between Phelps Center and McCaw Hall, and feature Dreaming in Color by Leni Schwendinger, a programmed lighting installation that sequences across the scrims slowly changing color to reflect various moods.

The theatrical experience continues into the lobby through a progression of space defined by overlapping curvilinear shapes and interactive modulation of light. The metal scrims visually interweave interior and exterior space and frame a grand stair that rises four stories within the lobby. Moving into the auditorium, materiality and color become progressively deeper in hue, culminating at the proscenium—and the performance it frames.

Working from the structure of an existing concert hall, sightlines were dramatically improved by narrowing the audience chamber. New side-wall boxes were added as well as a pair of seating “wings” which sweep up from the orchestra level and engage an extended first tier balcony. The perforated volume captured at this side-wall condition, washed in deep glow of red light, forms both an acoustic reverberation chamber and audience circulation zone, creating a luminous, dramatic expression as a prelude to the performance experience.

Photography: Tim Griffith

Selected Awards

2006 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region, Honor Award

2004 AIA Seattle Chapter, Honor Award

2004 Businessweek/Architectural Record Award

2004 Environmental Design + Construction, Excellence in Design Awards, Runner Up

2004 IESLA, LumenWest, Award of Excellence

2004 International Illumination Design, Merit Award

2003 AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards, Honor Award

2003 IESLA, Lumen, Citation, Illuminating Engineering Society, New York Chapter

2001 AIA Seattle What Makes It Green? Sustainable Design Award