New Mexico Architect Antoine Predock speaks about the $22 million (1997 dollars), 514-seat Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Predock also designed a 514-seat theater at Arizona State University, an 1800-seat auditorium at Thousand Oaks, California, and the La Jolla Playhouse. Visit Antoine Predock's Spencer Theater page.

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Spencer Theater, Ruidoso, NMSpencer Theater, Ruidoso, NMSpencer Theater, Ruidoso, NMSpencer Theater, Ruidoso, NM

Spencer Theater, Ruidoso, NM

An interview with Spencer Theater
architect Antoine Predock.

by Brad Cooper

Sometimes in the early stages of the process of making a building, making is a little mysterious."

The inspiration for the Spencer Theater was New Mexico in general and this site in particular, coupled with the inspiration of a client who is adventurous...who really wanted to stretch the possibilities of a theater.

"Jackie Spencer wanted a world class facility, one that didn’t simply become a regional playhouse, but really had the potential for connecting with culture globally.

"The clay model right away emerged from the meadow, and I started working on a big, essentially flat clay base, and I began to work the building out of that.

"I began to see a big long line coming out of the earth, connecting the land and the sky; from zero to 95 feet."

."I don’t think that the building could have happened anywhere else the way that it has. I’ve experimented with angling forms for other schools and so forth...but as a free standing theater...just a theater by could only happen here. There is no theater to parallel this one. There is no comparison.

"It’s been a great adventure. Jackie Spencer was a dynamo; a force of nature.

"Early in the model I realized that there could be an amazing possibility for the lobby if it weren’t simply absorbed in the overall envelope of the building. I saw The Phantom of the Opera and I began to think of how powerful a symbol the chandelier was...symbolic of the nature of theater. I thought, well...this is a modern building---we’re not going to hang chandeliers all over the about the lobby becoming a chandelier, a faceted crystalline realm where you almost felt as though you were entering a realm of light and crystal.

"You’ll notice that the big, long north-facing facade is sloped. It would have been very simple to have a vertical line there, but it didn’t feel right. As I was working with the clay model I began to shape that so it was more than a simple abstract wedge

."Let’s say it’s universal (the playhouse/auditorium space); there’s a universality about the proscenium stage that goes way back. There’s something about the traditional proscenium stage that’s still very evocative. The theater has to do many things and it’s a conventional wisdom, almost a cliché, that if you try to do too many things, you don’t do one right. With this theater we have the possibility of musical performance and spoken work and drama coexisting beautifully."

FROM MAY 17, 2007---

Antoine Predock FAIA presented the AIA/UK 2007 Keynote Lecture at the RIBA Jarvis Hall on 15 May, 2007. This was held in conjunction with the United Visions exhibition, and RIBA President Jack Pringle and AIA National Secretary David Proffitt, AIA gave introductory remarks. Antoine Predock titled his lecture ‘West East’ giving a clue to his desert beginnings and current projects in the Far East. Predock began his academic career studying engineering and it was through a fortuitous encounter with architect Don Schlegel that Predock focused his attentions on architecture. Early projects in New Mexico led to more significant projects such as the Arizona Science Center. A sense of earth, place, and light were consistent themes of these projects. Predock’s design process includes the use of large collages and clay models. The use of sculptural modelling is evidenced in projects such as the Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts that has a commanding presence in its mountainous setting. The AIA Gold Medallist in his later projects showed a keen appreciation for the importance of the architectural procession through and around a building. The Canadian Museum of Human Rights currently in design showed a mastery of integration between massing, place, and promenade through an uplifting series of spaces. The National Palace Museum in Taiwan, also in design, is a phenomenal project that creates a ‘Jade Mountain’ of marble and glass to house significant cultural artifacts. Predock showed numerous other projects during the course of his lecture, and concluded with a lively question and answer session..