The Strand, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) – Structural Engineering

SOM’s renovation of The Strand is an integrated architectural and engineering design solution that has transformed a derelict, century-old cinema into a highly visible and experimental performance space for San Francisco's preeminent theater company, American Conservatory Theater.

The building's historic shell was carefully upgraded with a new structural system. Existing load-bearing systems were retrofitted and rehabilitated in a way that reused 81 percent of the original steel and concrete structure. Supported by a new floor plate, an upper-level multipurpose space can be used as a black box theater, rehearsal room, and classroom. A basement level was excavated below the proscenium theater’s stage to house the actors’ lounge and dressing rooms.

The original second floor of the theater was demolished to create a double-height lobby, which reduces the foundation loads impacting the underground BART and Muni rail structures. Further spatial drama was added through the addition of cantilevered viewing balconies, a monumental stair, and mezzanine levels that extend from the building's core into the lobby’s 60,000-cubic-foot void.

Shear walls were added to reinforce The Strand’s structure and incorporate the architectural concept of layering into the interior design. By articulating a series of frames from the stage to the street, the structure helps to express the theater’s new form, which has revitalized not only the building, but also the surrounding neighborhood.