Campus & Community

Construction begins on A.R.T.’s new home in Allston

Rendering of new A.R.T.

Credit: Dematerial

6 min read

David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance to include interconnected, adaptable multiuse spaces 

Construction has begun in the Allston neighborhood of Boston on the new home of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.

A building to foster groundbreaking performance, public gathering, teaching, and international research, the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance was designed by Haworth Tompkins (architect and design lead) and ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge (architect of record) in collaboration with theater and acoustic consultant Charcoalblue. Shawmut Design and Construction is the project’s construction manager. 

“It is thrilling to see the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Performance & Creativity begin to rise at 175 N. Harvard Street,” said Diane Paulus, the Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director of the A.R.T. “Our new home will provide many exciting new opportunities for the A.R.T. to use the galvanizing power of theater to bring people together and build community. I’m grateful to our generous supporters, our brilliant, innovative partners, and to Harvard University for helping us reach this milestone.”  

The Goel Center will contain interconnected, adaptable multiuse spaces designed to support creativity and embrace future change. It will include two flexible performance venues — the West Stage, where large-scale productions will be produced, and the versatile and intimate East Stage.

In addition, the center will house light-filled, state-of-the-art rehearsal studios and teaching spaces, a spacious public lobby, and an outdoor performance yard to host ticketed and free programming. The facility will also include dressing rooms, technical shops, and administrative offices for the organization, as well as a café.  

The A.R.T.’s new home has been conceived and will be programmed to center community. It will be open to all during designated hours of operation, offering free Wi-Fi, food and beverage service, public restrooms, gathering spaces, indoor and outdoor public art and performances, and room rentals.  

Designed with a blend of environmental and social strategies to minimize embodied and operational carbon, maximize well-being, boost biodiversity, and enhance resiliency, the Goel Center will embrace the University’s ambitious sustainability priorities.

The building is designed to achieve the Living Building Challenge core accreditation from the International Living Future Institute in recognition that it will give more to its environment than it takes. Conceived through core principles of openness, artistic flexibility, collaboration, sustainability, and regenerative design, it will be constructed with laminate mass timber, reclaimed brick, and cedar cladding to minimize its lifetime carbon budget.

The building’s chilled water, hot water, and electric utilities will come from Harvard’s new lower-carbon District Energy Facility. It will capture additional clean energy from rooftop solar panels and leverage natural ventilation to reduce energy usage and enhance occupant comfort. Additionally, a green roof and extensive plantings will aid stormwater attenuation while increasing biodiversity and occupant well-being. 

The center is the first building in the U.S. to be designed by U.K.-based Haworth Tompkins, Architects’ Journal 2022 and 2020 AJ100 Practice of the Year and winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects 2014 Stirling Prize for its design of Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, England. The award is presented to the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year.

The A.R.T. selected Haworth Tompkins for its experience with sustainable design and urban development, as well as approaches to democratizing the theatergoing experience and the role that theaters can play within their communities. 

“Theater is about exploring our shared humanity in a space where people of all backgrounds come together and are invited to open their hearts,” said Haworth Tompkins Director Roger Watts. “Through an inspiring and collaborative design process, our building aims to extend that open invitation to Allston and the wider world, and to provide a framework that supports the expansion of creative practices within a radical yet simple architecture of adaptable space, natural tactile materials, fresh air, and light.” 

“From our earliest meetings, we have collaborated to create a series of spaces that are flexible, scalable, technically sophisticated, and, most importantly, welcoming and democratic to the audiences and artists who will inhabit them,” said Owen Hughes, director of theater and acoustic consultant Charcoalblue. 

“Working with Harvard, the A.R.T., and our design partners on this important community space draws on two of ARC’s core values: our passion for arts and culture and our commitment to providing carbon-neutral design. We look forward to opening night of the new center, and to continuing our creative collaboration with all those involved in bringing this inclusive new space to life,” said Philip Laird, principal at ARC. 

“We are honored to be leading the construction of the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance,” said Kevin Sullivan, executive vice president of Shawmut Design and Construction’s New England region. “This project exemplifies our deep commitment to the community. By prioritizing environmental sustainability and adaptable design, we are building a vibrant hub for creativity and connection that will serve the local area for years to come. Our shared goal of minimizing embodied and operational carbon, maximizing well-being, and enhancing resiliency ensures that this center will not only be a beacon for the arts but also a pioneering global model for sustainable construction.” 

“This state-of-the-art building will bring us into a future full of creative potential,” said Interim Harvard President Alan Garber. “David and Stacey stepped forward at an important moment for the A.R.T., giving generously not because of the strong foundation that already exists but because they see what is possible. The incredible community their vision sustains and expands will have a profound effect on arts and culture throughout our region.” 

“The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance will be a leading model for the next generation of cultural architecture through its adaptability and responsiveness to our goals for sustainability,” said A.R.T. Executive Director Kelvin Dinkins Jr. “We look forward to audiences accompanying us on this journey to completion, and we are excited to welcome them to our new home pulsing with creative energy and community as we launch A.R.T.’s next chapter.”

Construction of the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity & Performance will continue into 2026. Audiences are invited to follow the process on A.R.T.’s social media channels and its website