Home AEC Seattle Opera Debuts New Civic Home at Seattle Center with Public Opening

Seattle Opera Debuts New Civic Home at Seattle Center with Public Opening

Seattle Opera, Seattle, NBBJ, Speight Jenkins Way, Fourth Avenue North, Chorus and Teen Vocal StudioSeattle Center campus
Seattle Opera Civic Home on Mercer and 4th Street. Photo Credit: Sean Airhart

Seattle WA, December 12, 2018 – Seattle Opera announced today that it has moved into its new civic home at Seattle Center. The four-story, 105,000 sq. ft. building is a welcoming and accessible cultural anchor for the east corner of the Seattle Center campus, encouraging the discovery of art.

Designed by Seattle architectural firm NBBJ, the building is decisively transparent in order to showcase the making of art, with large windows along Speight Jenkins Way (Fourth Avenue North) and Mercer Street so that a passerby can see into the costume shop and community spaces and watch the technical and artistic aspects of putting together a show.

“Most people think of opera as a black box, where the art is revealed on opening night,” said Matthew Somerton, Principal at architecture and design firm NBBJ. “The design of the Seattle Opera at the Center building turns that model inside out, revealing the inner beauty that goes into producing an opera from the beginning: a corner glass-box theater opens rehearsals to the street, tall windows allow anyone to watch the craft of costume making, and classrooms provide ample space for community engagement and apprenticeships.”

A purpose-built facility, the building allows Seattle Opera to consolidate most of its operations under one roof while creating spaces for teachers, artists, and people of all ages through educational/engagement programming, as well as community partnerships.

“Our new civic home will enable us to eventually reach more than 80,000 people through our education and community programs on an annual basis,” said Aidan Lang, Seattle Opera General Director. “That’s as many people who come to see Seattle Opera at McCaw Hall annually.”

Owned entirely by Seattle Opera, the new building resides on a site owned by The City of Seattle on the Seattle Center campus. Half of the funding for the $60 million project has been through private donations, with a quarter coming from public funding.

The public is invited to a free Grand Opening event from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, December 15. Attendees will be able to experience musical performances by Seattle Opera’s Chorus and Teen Vocal Studio, observe a rehearsal of an upcoming production, and learn more about the history and behind-the-scenes art of opera.

NBBJ is the architect and Lease Crutcher Lewis is general contractor. Shiels Obletz Johnsen is the project manager.