TheatreSquared’s new building wins 2020 American Architecture Award

Photography: George Maka and Timothy Hursley

A new building in downtown Fayetteville picked up some national recognition for its unique architecture.

TheatreSquared officials last week announced that their new facility, located at 477 W Spring St, picked up one of only 120 American Architecture Awards given in 2020.

According to the website, the award honors “new buildings designed and constructed by American architects in the U.S. and abroad and by international architects for buildings designed and built in the United States.”

The building is one of just two in the nation recognized in the entertainment category along with the Searle Visitor Center Lincoln Park Zoo.

TheatreSquared’s building was designed by Marvel Architects and Charcoalblue, and was supported by a Walton Family Foundation Design Excellence Program grant.

Photography: George Maka and Timothy Hursley

“We’re thrilled to announce that Northwest Arkansas’s theatre has been awarded the prestigious 2020 American Architecture Award, honoring the best new buildings designed and constructed by American architects in the U.S. and abroad,” TheatreSquared executive director Martin Miller and artistic director Bob Ford said in a statement. “Even in the midst of a global crisis, the building now shines as a beacon for what a spirited community can do together when we work together for a common purpose. The nation is taking note.”

The American Architecture Awards were founded in 1994, and organized by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press.

The Jury for the American Architecture Awards was held at Thessaloniki, Greece in September 2020, and included ca selected team of architects, designers and communication experts.

Photography: George Maka and Timothy Hursley

TheatreSquared’s new home was completed in 2019, just in time for their 14th season. The design team for the project included Jonathan Marvel, Lissa So, Zachary Griffin, Ariel Poliner, Siyuan Ye, Enrique Ramon, Mabel Plasencia, and Bell Ying Cai.

From a description of the project included with the award submission:

All structures tell a story. The building, its materials, and craftsmanship are an expression and celebration of Northwest Arkansas. The wood of the furniture, walls, and floors were sourced from trees felled from the site, and local Ozark boulders were embedded into the landscaping. A limited material palette was used, giving priority to durability, flexibility, and the building’s technical performance systems. Concrete provides low maintenance and durable finish intended to last for generations. The charring of the wood on the exterior creates a natural protective coating with an expected 50 year or longer lifetime. The materials work to create an efficient and sensible design where every space and material is used economically and purposefully.

TheatreSquared’s ethos is that theatre ought to be enjoyed by everyone. The building “commons” – the theatre’s connective space – invitingly opens up to the street, serving as an unofficial living room for the city. The public programming, café with daily open hours, and glass walls of the Commons increase transparency and entice both theatregoers and visitors alike. The Rehearsal Room, a space dually used for events, projects over the Northwest corner of the building. A big picture window looks out while revealing the inner workings of the building and the process of mounting a show.

For more information about the American Architecture Awards, visit their website.

TheatreSquared just unveiled their updated plans for the 2020 season in light of the pandemic we are all experiencing. For more information, or to purchase tickets to the shows, visit

Photography: George Maka and Timothy Hursley

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