PlayhouseSquare, Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University Officially Open Allen Theatre Complex

February 08, 2012

CLEVELAND, Ohio (February 2012) – In its first transformation since 1997 and second transformation since 1921, the Allen Theatre Complex, which has been under construction since October 2010, officially opened as the new home of Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University at PlayhouseSquare, adding three venues to the theatre district. With a campaign of support from the public, foundations, corporations, and organizations, the Allen Theatre project is a collaboration of PlayhouseSquare, Cleveland Play House, and Cleveland State University to create a truly innovative cultural arts and education center for the public and university students studying theatre, drama, and dance. PlayhouseSquare is the largest theatre district outside of New York City, making it both a national gem and icon of Cleveland, helping to revitalize the region. Turner constructed the innovative transformation of the Allen Theatre, which was designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky to preserve the historic architectural details and elegance of the original theatre. 

The original Allen Theatre first opened on April 1, 1921, as a 3,080-seat movie house. In 1997, Turner Construction Company built a modernized stage house with comfortable seating for 2,500 and restored the beautiful architectural features of the theatre. The Allen Theatre’s current transformation updated the acoustics, lighting, and sound capabilities of the Allen and included a 47,500-square-foot addition. The Allen Theatre Complex now houses a new 512-seat theatre nestled within the existing Allen Theatre, and two new theatres located in the former surface parking lot adjacent to the original building.  The highly flexible “Second Stage” offers a myriad of configurations with maximum seating capacity of 348,  ranging from 207 (end stage) to 336 seats (arena) and the “Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre” seats 150. The new complex includes the KeyBank Concourse, which is a gateway connecting patrons from the parking garage north of Dodge Court to all of the theatres, restaurants, and offices in the PlayhouseSquare District.

“Our vision is to be a contemporary, top-tier theatre helping to revitalize Cleveland,” says Michael Bloom, Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House. “With our partners Cleveland State University and PlayhouseSquare and with the talent and support of PlayhouseSquare president Art Falco, we have created a thrilling new home in one of the busiest theatre centers in America. We can focus exclusively on our mission of theatre and arts education for the people of Northeast Ohio and continue to showcase Cleveland as one of the nation’s premier performing arts districts.”

“We anticipate that more than 150,000 additional guests will visit the PlayhouseSquare District each year,” explains Art J. Falco, President and CEO of PlayhouseSquare. “In addition, employees of Cleveland Play House and faculty from Cleveland State University arts programs will work in the district and CSU students will have classes and attend performances. All of this adds to the excitement at PlayhouseSquare. This partnership is a point of pride for the Northeast Ohio community because it benefits our students, our economy, and our stature as a vibrant, forward-thinking city.”

“With the transformation of the Allen Theatre, PlayhouseSquare elevates one of the country’s most successful arts centers to the highest level – that of a spectacular urban district for arts and entertainment, education, and new media technology,” says Paul E. Westlake, Jr., FAIA, Managing Principal and Lead Designer of Westlake Reed Leskosky. “PlayhouseSquare is unparalleled in its offerings of national caliber repertoire theatre, Broadway touring shows, university arts, community arts, broadcast, shared production assets and all of the amenities about which patrons and new generation audiences might dream. We were thrilled to be part of the redesign and innovative architecture that has already received much praise.”

There were several construction challenges related to the Allen Theatre expansion. “The large-scale addition is on a very tight site surrounded by active 1920s vintage theatres and office buildings in Cleveland’s busy theatre and business district,” says Jack Kellogg, P.E., Project Manager for Turner's Cleveland office. “Due to the close proximity of the adjacent buildings, vibration monitors were installed to ensure that the construction work did not disturb the surrounding buildings.”

“An extensive dewatering and sheeting system was used to allow for safe and efficient construction of the basement portion of the project. Concrete foundations and steel erection occurred during the record cold winter months and the record wet spring of 2011. Noisy construction activities were closely coordinated with the ongoing theatre schedule and work was halted during performances,” added Kellogg.

“Turner has a longstanding and proven track record of building success for PlayhouseSquare,” says Mark Dent, General Manager and Vice President of Turner Cleveland. “We are honored to have been the trusted construction leader on the Allen Theatre Complex as well as other monumental projects impacting Cleveland. Since the Turner offices are located within PlayhouseSquare, we’ll have the opportunity to see, firsthand, the public’s positive reaction to the transformed space.” 

The transformation of the Allen Theatre continues the environmental leadership and stewardship established by PlayhouseSquare, as demonstrated in LEED certified projects including Idea Center, one of the first in Ohio to receive LEED-CI Silver and part of the USGBC LEED-CI pilot program introducing green building practices to the commercial lease real estate marketplace, the Hanna Theatre (LEED-CI certified), and the Idea Center North 2nd Floor Expansion of the Idea Center Tenant Suite (LEED in progress).

“The most significant sustainable design initiative is the reuse and revitalization of an underutilized theatre within the PlayhouseSquare District,” says Matt Janiak, AIA, LEED AP, Project Director of Westlake Reed Leskosky. “The collaboration of three distinct groups, PlayhouseSquare, Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University, allows the theatre to be reengaged into the community and extend its reach and their message for professional and educational missions. This project is built on immense infrastructure from earlier investments, while providing a new experience for the theatre patron.”

Under the direction of Raymond Kent, CTS, LEED AP, EAVA, Assoc. AIA, ECA, of the Innovative Technology Design Group (ITDG) of Westlake Reed Leskosky, the Allen Theatre Complex is designed with state-of-the-art sustainable integrated technology, including digital technology distribution. For example, the design utilizes the Aviom AllFrame for audio distribution and Aviom’s Pro64 digital audio products that reduce conduit runs, cable infrastructure, and instillation labor resulting in less waste of materials and avoidance of hazardous materials due to its CAT6 infrastructure.  

Turner Construction Company worked with Westlake Reed Leskosky to manage the project in a sustainable way, such as recycling equipment already installed in the existing facility but beyond useful life. Equipment that was still functional was reused to reduce costs and avoid landfill. The ITDG also required the AV contractor to recycle packing materials and provide shop drawings electronically for review and in the field.  These guidelines follow the Sustainable Technologies Environmental Program (STEP) Rating system.

Final photos of the complex are available at:  Media contact information is below.


About PlayhouseSquare

PlayhouseSquare is the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York. The not-for-profit performing arts center utilizes the arts to engage individuals and attract more than one million guests per year to its 1,000+ annual events. These audiences act as the catalyst for economic growth and vitality within the Northeast Ohio region.


About Cleveland Play House

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, Cleveland Play House has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. It has produced more than 100 American and/or World Premieres, and over the 95+ years more than 11 million people have attended approximately 1,300 productions. Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Bloom and Managing Director Kevin Moore, Cleveland Play House looks toward its centennial while performing in three state-of-the-art venues at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland.


About Cleveland State University
Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for engaged learning. With an enrollment of more than 17,000 students, 8 colleges and approximately 200 academic programs, CSU was again chosen for 2011 as one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.






About Westlake Reed Leskosky

The transformation of the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland, Ohio is designed by national historic restoration and cultural and performing arts specialists Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland, Ohio in an integrated approach that incorporates architectural and engineering disciplines and related interior design, theatre technical, LEED™/sustainable design and historic restoration specialties. Widely published, Westlake Reed Leskosky has been recognized with over 300 design awards in the past ten years. Westlake Reed Leskosky has revitalized five historic theatres at PlayhouseSquare, the first and largest renovated historic theatre district in the United States.


About Turner Construction Company

Turner’s Cleveland office has built successful projects in the city for more than 45 years. In 2010, the office managed more than $250 million in construction volume and employed an average of 120 local residents. Current and recently completed projects include the Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center, Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital Emergency Room and ICU, Cleveland Clinic Twinsburg Family Health Center, Cuyahoga Community College Westshore Campus, and Baldwin-Wallace Thomas Family Center for Science and Innovation. For more information, visit Turner's website at         

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