Alley Theatre Celebrates Groundbreaking on New Renovation

Alley Theatre Celebrates Groundbreaking on New Renovation

The Alley Theatre, one of the nation's leading nonprofit theatre companies and housed in one of Houston's most iconic buildings, celebrated the groundbreaking today for the first extensive renovation of its facilities since its opening in 1968 as part of its $73 million capital campaign. Having raised $47.5 million in the "Extended Engagement" campaign, the theatre intends to raise a total of $56.5 million by August 2015 to complete the first two phases of the campaign, Artistic Enhancement and Renovation. This will allow the theatre to have the building costs secured, before the Alley Theatre begins its inaugural season back in its downtown home.

The Alley Theatre will perform their 2014-2015 season at the University of Houston (UH), on its main campus, as its downtown theatre undergoes an extensive renovation. The renovations will continue through the summer of 2015, with the grand opening of the renovated Alley Theatre scheduled for fall 2015. For more information about the season programs to be performed at UH visit

Meredith Long and Roger Plank are co-chairmen of the campaign, "Extended Engagement." $47.5 million has already been raised toward the goal.

The campaign will pay for updating all theatrical systems with state-of-the-art equipment, substantially improving the patron in-theatre experience and amenities, and ensure the Theatre's future as a performing arts institution of national caliber that is sustainable, relevant, and accessible for future generations of Houstonians.

"The Alley's commitment to ensuring a legacy of great theatre experiences is evident in the first-class facility planned," said Long. "The goal of the renovation is to enhance the character of the Alley Theatre building and change the audience experience exponentially."

The Extended Engagement Campaign has three primary components:

I. $10 million for Artistic Enhancement:
Increase the artistic budget by $1 million each season from 2008 through 2017 to fund the artistic mission of the theatre, supporting plays with larger casts and higher production values, and expanding the resident company to include actors, directors, playwrights, and designers.

II. $46.5 million for Renovation:
Renovate the existing building, including the Hubbard Stage and lobbies, clean the concrete building exterior and create a more energy efficient building.

III. $16.5 million for Endowment and Cash Reserve:
Augment the Alley's current endowment by $15 million and increase cash reserves by an additional $1.5 million to support the enhanced artistic product.

"The Alley's strategic plan, set by the board in 2006, has enabled the Theatre to expand the annual budget spent on its artistic product by $3 million per year," explained Plank. "This investment has enabled the Alley to delight audiences and is already paying dividends in higher earned and contributed income. It has permitted our overall operating budget to grow 50 percent and sets the stage for the balance of the 'Extended Engagement' campaign."

"For the past eight years, including the recession of 2008-2010, the Alley has posted consecutive years of operating surpluses," stated Managing Director Dean R. Gladden. "We currently have no debt and an accumulated surplus of $1.5 million. Our strong financial position places us in the best possible position for this campaign to succeed."

"This capital campaign and the renovations envisioned will allow the Alley to enrich the audience's experience, creating a more intimate space where actors and audience are closer," promised Artistic Director Gregory Boyd. "We will maintain our commitment to the resident company, supporting theatre artists working together on a variety of projects over time, embrace new theatre technology, and continue to nurture new play development. By continuing to support these artistic initiatives, we will be able to plant the flag of Houston and Houston's Alley Theatre in the other theatre capitals and cities around the globe."

Since 1968, no major renovation has been made to the Hubbard Stage - the largest of the Alley's two stages - or to the public and backstage areas of the building, the building's air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems. Renovation plans include:

Added fly loft with computer-controlled, motorized rigging; fully trapped stage floor; state-of-the-art lighting, sound and electrical enhancements; and larger and more flexible dressing room facilities;

All new seats and seating configuration that will provide a more intimate experience for the audience, with accessible seating in multiple areas; new and expanded restrooms; new lobby space with a skyline view and new flooring throughout the public spaces;

New multi-zoned air conditioning system; new plumbing and expanded sprinkler system; installation of energy efficient glass and cleaning of the building exterior.

The design of the new Theatre is by Pete Ed Garrett, principal of Houston-based Studio RED Architects, who has worked on theatre projects including Wortham Theater Center, Hobby Center, as well as renovation of the Alley's Neuhaus Stage in 2002. Dennis Irvine, founder, president and CEO of Irvine Team DSC, will serve as the project construction manager. Alley Theatre Associate Director of Design Kevin Rigdon and Bill Connor of Connor & Associates are the theatre consultants and Mark Holden, chairman of the Jaffe Holden Acoustics, is the acoustical consultant on the renovation. The construction will be done by Houston-based Bellows Construction, builder of Wortham Theater Center and Houston Ballet Center for Dance, as well as the original construction of the Alley Theatre building.

With its bold, concrete exterior and multiple-turrets, the Alley Theatre building has secured itself as one of Houston's most significant, architectural landmarks. The distinctive building, dedicated in 1968, is the heart of Houston's downtown Theater District and is the only downtown performing arts venue owned and operated by a performing arts company. The building was the first solo project designed by architect Ulrich Franzen, one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century to emerge from the Harvard School of Design. Renovations planned will embrace the unique features of this iconic building, enhancing its character with 21st century theatre systems and audience amenities to ensure its value to tomorrow's audiences and theatre artists.

For donor recognition opportunities in the renovated building, please contact Director of Development Nancy Giles at or 713.315.3398.

Related Articles

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...