Ruth Caplin Theatre
Charlottesville, Virginia

The UVA Drama Building included a 500-seat proscenium theater and a small flexible performance space. Adding a medium capacity thrust stage provided the department with a full complement of performance venues for training their students in all aspects of theater. The challenging site constraints called for creative use of a steeply sloping area in front of the existing building. William Rawn Associates devised a way to set the theater into the hill, which enables technical access to the stage from the existing basement, and allows the new lobby to be contiguous with the existing lobby. Nextstage Design principal Tony Forman, while at Theatre Projects, guided the team toward a very flexible and efficient thrust theater. In addition to being equipped with digital infrastructure to support future technologies in lighting, audio and video, the space’s volume provides young performers an ideal environment for developing vocal and movement skills.

University of Virginia

William Rawn Associates

Threshold Acoustics

Construction Manager
Neilsen Builders

Construction Type
New construction

Square Feet

$9 million


Department of Drama

350-seat thrust theater

2016 Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award
2016 AIA New England Design Awards Citation
2014 LEED Silver

Photo: © Robert Benson