Working to revitalize a Dallas treasure with international significance
KALITA HUMPHREYS THEATER AT TURTLE CREEK CONSERVANCY
Main Theater Entrance, Restored: Kalita Humphreys Theater/Dallas Theater Center Master Plan, Dallas Municipal Archive. Samuel Ringman, artist.
Historic Facade Entry c.1960. Image: Messina Studios
Frank Lloyd Wright’s only freestanding theater BUILT during his lifetime is in the heart of Dallas, Texas. The Kalita Humphreys Theater represents the culmination of the vision for a unique, new theater type by one of America’s greatest architects. It was used for cutting-edge experimental theater by founding director Paul Baker.
When it opened in 1959, it was “hailed as the most innovative and interesting theater in the country.” The auditorium was a powerful environmental space, with an intimate relationship between actor and audience, and a perfect acoustic.
Rising above the rocky bluffs next to Turtle Creek, the theater is a sculptural concrete building of cylindrical forms on an angled grid, integrated into a setting of primordial beauty. It is a designated historic landmark.
Now, the theater and its surrounding park land are in need of major physical and aesthetic improvements, and the theater's support building is inadequate. This property needs to be revitalized to be recognizable again as a work of great architecture, emblematic of the civic pride and modernist spirit of Dallas.
THE KALITA HUMPHREYS THEATER AT TURTLE CREEK CONSERVANCY – THE KTC – is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to transform this theater campus into an enduring cultural asset that supports plural use: theater, architecture, and landscape.
The mission of the KTC is guided by the recommendations in the Dallas Theater Center/Kalita Humphreys Theater at Turtle Creek Master Plan. This comprehensive assessment was funded by the citizens of Dallas and vetted through an inclusive public process. The plan's key points:
The theater can be restored to meet Wright's original intentions and be a modern, functional, flexible place for theater-making.
A high-design support building will meet the theater’s needs and add amenities that are now lacking.
A restored landscape will enhance the park, create connections to the neighborhoods, and provide convenient and unobtrusive parking.
Owners and advocates can come together in a collective operation for these shared goals, ensuring good stewardship into the future.
Dallas has a wonderful opportunity to rehabilitate and restore this property to be a cultural treasure for all of Dallas and a destination for visitors from around the world.
Image: Dallas Morning News, Guy Reynolds
current CONDITIONS and proposed PLAN
Image: Ann Abernathy
Theater and Support Building, Current Condition
Image: Steve Clique
Auditorium, Current Condition
Image: Kalita Humphreys Theater/Dallas Theater Center Master Plan, Dallas Municipal Archive. Samuel Ringman, artist
Theater and Support Building (Partial View), Proposed Plan
Image: Kalita Humphreys Theater/Dallas Theater Center Master Plan, Dallas Municipal Archive
Auditorium, Proposed Plan
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