The diverse program expansion called for a grand, unifying design gesture, combining new and old architectural components. The solution—an all-encompassing metallic veil—sculpturally expresses and celebrates the cultural life of contemporary San Antonio with references to the filigreed forms of Spanish Colonial ironwork, the delicate lace of festival costumery and the filtered daylight of the River Walk landscape. As night falls and the River Walk transitions into a festival-like atmosphere, embedded LEDs are choreographed with the evening’s performance.
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
San Antonio, Texas
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Associate Architect: Marmon Mok Architecture
General Contractor: Linbeck Group
Theater Planning: Fisher Dachs Associates
Structural Engineering: Walter P. Moore
MEP Engineering: Timmons Design Engineers
Civil Engineering: Pape Dawson
Landscape Architecture: Mesa Design Group
Lighting Design: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
Graphics/Signage: Sussman / Prejza & Company, Inc.
Historic Renovation: Fisher Heck Architects
New area: 157,000 square feet
Renovated area: 26,000 square feet
1,762 performance hall / 231 studio theater/ 600 seat outdoor plaza
Architecture, Interior Design, Planning, Renovation + Adaptive Reuse
Combining one of San Antonio’s most beloved architectural icons with advanced technology to create one of the most flexible multi-purpose performance halls in the United States, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts embraces the multi-faceted cultural identity of the city with a complex tapestry of form, materiality, light, and landscape. Drawing inspiration from San Antonio’s rich vernacular of color, pattern, and public celebration, this “performing arts center for everyone” offers a diverse architectural experience capable of continuous transformation in response to changing audiences, uses, and surroundings.
The aspirations for the renovation/expansion project were threefold: to create a large, flexible, multi-use performance space with acoustics comparable to the world’s finest concert halls; to renew the Spanish Colonial style historic building for future generations; and to create a vibrant connection between the city’s main cultural venue and the River Walk. While retaining the Municipal Auditorium’s treasured historic façade, the Tobin Center weaves a new 183,000-square foot facility into its framework of public space—including a 1,768-seat main performance hall, a 231-seat studio theater, and a 600-seat event plaza.
Themes of transformation, adaptability, and diversity come to their fullest expression in the H-E-B Performance Hall. The room can rapidly change seating and stage geometry, lighting, color, and acoustics to suit the unique qualities and objectives of each performance—in effect giving the city many venues in one and providing local arts groups with unlimited possibilities to attract new audiences with innovative programming.
Photography: Andy Crawford, Ed LaCasse, Mark Menjivar, Siggi Ragnar, The Tobin Center, Brandon Watts
The new event plaza connects the site for the first time with the River Walk’s network of walkways along the San Antonio River, positioned one-story lower than the streets of downtown. The high glass entrance lobby to the Alvarez Family Studio Theater overlooks the plaza, creating strong linkages between the different venue elements as an integral aspect to the arrival experience from the river.
2018 Texas Society of Architects Design Award
2016 Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence
2016 AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards, Award of Merit
2016 AIA San Antonio Mayor’s Choice Award
2016 AIA San Antonio Honor Award
2012 AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards, Citation Award, Unbuilt Category
2012 Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award