The Two River Theater Company, a leading regional professional theater company, located in the coastal New Jersey city of Red Bank, features a 350-seat performance space, rehearsal / studio theater, lobby/reception area, and administrative and support spaces. Situated in an former industrial area near downtown, the design responds to its context. The building is a layering of opposites: raw and finished, interior and exterior, transparent and opaque, geometric and organic.
The lobby completes the composition. Sheathed in glass, this two-story volume is accented by wood timbers. Its front door faces a public plaza, to be realized in a future phase of work. Planned development of an adjacent lot as retail, restaurant and related activities creates a vibrant urban setting. The lobby's transparency serves as its own marquee. On the inside, richly patterned rugs accent the polished concrete floor and define a series of intimate lounging areas. Three glazed-tile volumes contain the box office, concessions, and theater vestibule. An upper mezzanine provides access to the auditorium balcony and VIP room.
Atop the lobby and wrapping alongside the building's primary facades are undulating panels of aluminum. The juxtaposition of curvaceous forms and rigid blocks of brick further emphasizes the intermingling of theatrical and industrial aesthetics. It also activates the streetscape, drawing the attention of passengers along the New Jersey Transit coastline route, which runs diagonal to the site.
The theater has a modest thrust stage that allows for a range of dramatic productions, while its large proscenium provides a flexible environment for scenic designers. The seating configuration places half the audience below and half above the horizontal sight line of the actors in order to provide the most intimate environment.
Stewart Jones was the designer and principal in charge of this project for Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. The team consisted of Davis Crossfield theater consultant, Marshall-KMK acoustics, Princeton Engineering MEP Engineer, Harrison Hamnett structural engineer, 212 Harakawa graphics & signage. Torcon was the construction manager.
In addition to the auditorium, a 2,500-square-foot rehearsal room doubles as performance space, and also can be used for pre- and post-performance events and for classes.
Three forms house the major spaces. At the heart of the structure is a large, masonry-clad 350-seat theater and rehearsal hall, which provides the acoustic solidity required for sound isolation. Its patterned, multi-color brick facade takes inspiration from the older warehouses in the area. A full range of back-of-house support functions is provided in a separate wing, and includes shops, dressing rooms, a loading dock and offices.