David L Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts

This new building provides a 650-seat performance space, a band room for 85, and a chorus room for 120. These primary spaces are supported by a full set design/construction shop, dressing rooms/costume storage, music practice rooms, faculty office and library.

Designed for flexibility and multiplicity of use, the chorus room doubles as a cabaret space. The main theater is designed with teaching students in mind. Two levels of balconies people the walls. With the furthest seat from the stage at 55 feet, this promotes an intimate relationship between performer and viewer even with a full house. The balconies can be darkened for smaller audiences without the house feeling empty. An added advantage to this configuration is the opportunity for antiphonal music and interactive theater. The orchestra pit lift, at its highest position, acts as a stage trust.

Accessibility and safety are primary considerations of the design. Young theater techs have three safe cat walks allowing for lighting of the stage. A fully accessible control room is at the second balcony level. Sound and projection systems and rigging which permit scenes to fly allow students to learn the art of theater production in a safe and manageable manner.

The site is directly adjacent to the signature main building of the school, at the front entrance of the campus. This position requires a design of the exterior that is both exciting and supportive of the iconic image of the campus. A two-story columned front with floor to ceiling glass will glow as a lantern on performance nights creating a see and be seen moment and reinforcing the drama of anticipation as the guests enter into the main theater level and the balconies. Solid stone walls serve to visually connect this new structure to the Main Building.

Penn Charter has a keen interest in sustainable design and this building is Gold LEED certified. Local stone, concrete, and recycled steel make up the structure. Daylighting and views are incorporated into all but the theater space. The building features a green roof and uses grey water for irrigation and flushing toilets. Optimal energy performance is achieved as a result of energy modeling and specification of highly efficient HVAC systems.


Project Type


3000 West School House Lane, Philadelphia, 19144,