Balancing the desires for a landmark facility that embodies contemporary and artistic values while adhering to a limited financial means brought new vision to a tired outdated building.

The renovation of an existing 1928 four-story concrete-framed factory created a new home for the Richmond Ballet's professional company, offices, support spaces and School of Dance. The Ballet sought to create a landmark facility that embodied and communicated the contemporary and artistic values of the organization, while maintaining strict adherence to the construction budget of the financially conservative non-profit. Thus, "The Ballet Factory", inspired by the existing building, budget, and design potential. 


  • 52,000 SF
  • Renovation
  • Multiple dance studios
  • convertible multi-purpose performance spaces

To contrast the weight and solidity of the existing concrete and masonry structure, a new lightweight structure of steel and glass was designed to literally hang off, or 'dance' on, the face of the existing concrete frame, embodying the motion, tension, energy and dynamic of dance. Interior spaces are organized in an animated plan where light pours into the studios and offers views of dancers within. The Ballet features a high-volume pair of studio spaces to serve the professional company. This space is convertible to a 250-seat studio theatre for intimate performances to smaller audiences. We designed and coordinated the dance floors, performance lighting, ballet barres, mirrors, performance drapery and support space features in close collaboration with the Ballet staff.

Selective demolition of portions of the existing concrete frame permitted the construction of the large volume steel-framed studios on the top floors. Even a selected number of columns were removed from the second floor to create more open studios for the School.