Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

Garrison, New York

In design

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival


13,850 SF
480-seat theater

Targeting LEED Platinum


The new design for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF), one of New York’s most beloved open-air theater companies, establishes a permanent home and more versatility for its actors, audience, and back-of-house. The gently curved, timber-framed grid shell improves year-round functionality while evolving HVSF’s tradition of immersive performances, opening directly onto the revitalized landscape and framing views of the highlands along the Hudson River. Architecture and nature work together to create a transformative new cultural destination for New York and the wider performing arts community.

Upon arrival to the site, winding accessible paths guide patrons around and up the hill to the theater, building a sense of drama and discovery as the landscape and architecture are glimpsed and then revealed.

Since its first season in 1987, HVSF’s productions have been staged in a seasonal tent at Boscobel House and Gardens overlooking the Hudson River. The new design on a nearby site remains open to the elements but elevates the overall theatrical experience for both actors and visitors through improved rehearsal, performance, and amenity spaces; expanded accessibility for more diverse audiences; and technical additions that open up new opportunities for HVSF productions. The landscape design replaces the site’s water-intensive former golf course with restored native grasses and wetlands that support biodiversity and decrease resource use.

Encouraging visitors to meander through the landscape, restored native grasses frame a variety of verdant paths across the site, while increasing the region’s biodiversity. A-frame columns mark entrances into the theater and support the curved shell roof.

Conceived as a single, fluid gesture, like the wing of a bird, the design encompasses the theater’s disparate functions, vastly improving circulation between spaces and across the site and enabling a wider range of cultural and community programming. Supported by exposed timber A-frame columns, the building’s natural material palette and curved form help the design blend into the rolling landscape. Positioning nature at the forefront of the theater’s creative work, the stage’s proscenium arch serves as both an entrance for patrons and actors, and a natural backdrop for the company’s open-air performances. Picnic lawns on the hill around the theater encourage visitors to gather before and after shows to enjoy sweeping views.

Natural ventilation and solar shading around the roof’s perimeter help passively cool the building. They work in tandem with the project’s other green strategies, including low-carbon mass timber, photovoltaic panels, rainwater harvesting and reuse, and increased biodiversity, to target LEED Platinum—the first such certification for a purpose-built US theater. Through its care for the environment, and the planet more broadly, the design aims to ensure the company’s productions and the diversity of the natural world remain center stage for many seasons to come.

Project Team

Nelson Byrd Woltz, Landscape Architect

Thornton Tomasetti, Structural Engineer

Fisher Dachs Associates, Theater Consultant

Threshold Acoustics, Acoustic Consultant

Buro Happold, MEP, IT, Security Engineer and Sustainability Consultant

Tillotson Design Associates, Lighting Consultant

Badey & Watson, Civil Engineer

Flyleaf Creative Inc., Wayfinding and Graphic Design Consultant

Tectonic Engineering Geotechnical Engineer



New York Times — "Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Finds First Permanent Home"

New York Times — "Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Finds First Permanent Home"

Studio Gang to design a year-round home for the regional cultural anchor.