Jacob’s Pillow Announces Building Plans For the Reimagined Doris Duke Theatre

The new addition to the Jacob’s Pillow campus will look to the future with advanced technological capabilities, flexible performance spaces, and a sustainable, accessible design

Rendering depicts an aerial view of the Jacob’s Pillow campus, with the planned new Doris Doris Theatre on the site of the original Duke studio theater. Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo Architects and Marvel.

The historic Doris Duke Theatre, which burned down in a fire with no apparent cause in November 2020, will be replaced by a flexible theater, according to plans released by Jacob’s Pillow. In order to build a future-focused dance theater as it enters its second century, Jacob’s Pillow attempts to replace what was lost while looking to the future. The principle architect for the new building project is Mecanoo, under the direction of Creative Director and Founding Partner Francine Houben, in collaboration with the landscape architects and the New York-based architecture company Marvel, under the direction of founding principal Jonathan Marvel. Alongside the design team, theatre and acoustics consultants Charcoalblue are working on the project.

Rendering depicts a ground-level view of the planned new Doris Duke Theatre, viewed from a perspective right outside the Perles Family Studio. The new building will feature two lobbies with sliding doors, which will create multiple entrances and exits to the building. The lobby on the west side of the new Duke is visible in this image. Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo Architects and Marvel.

The design of the new theater honors the Pillow’s rich heritage to create a welcoming and welcoming environment for discussion, cooperation, and education. While embracing a new digital backbone, the new Doris Duke Theatre will preserve the intimacy of the existing studio theater. The theater’s function as a makerspace and digital lab depends on its ability to adapt to changing programmatic needs and future technological advancements, which will also assure the theater’s long-term resilience and potential for expansion.

Rendering depicts a portion of the west lobby of the planned new Doris Duke Theatre. This west lobby will serve to welcome visitors in from the spacious artist quadrangle, and will also provide a covered and ventilated space for pre-show talks alongside a new exhibition space. Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo Architects and Marvel.
Rendering depicts a possible production design inside the theater performance space in the new Doris Duke Theatre. The new theater will be technologically equipped to ensure that the creative appetites of artists will be served in the decades to come. Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo Architects and Marvel.

Francine Houben remarked, “For me, what inspired me to arrive at Jacob’s Pillow is the spirit of the festival and experiencing performance in this unique natural location. “We sought to create a structure that expressed Indigenous values of being connected to the land and seeing seven generations ahead. Moving between the outdoors and indoors in a specific order and the building’s sculptural layering highlight the sense of movement in space while remaining firmly rooted to the site in this unique location in the Berkshires.


Rendering depicts a possible setup for activities and events inside the new Doris Duke Theatre. In addition to summer Festival performances, the new building is designed with a year-round, community focus and ease of use for special events. Rendering courtesy of Mecanoo Architects and Marvel.

“For me, what was inspiring arriving at Jacob’s Pillow is the energy of the festival and experiencing performance in this unique natural setting,” said Francine Houben. “We wanted to make a building which embodied Indigenous principles of connecting with the land and thinking seven generations forward. The sequence of moving between outdoors and indoors and the sculptural layering of the building emphasizes the feeling of movement in space, while firmly rooted to the site in this special place in the Berkshires.”

Find more projects by Mecanoo Architekten:

Vudafieri-Saverino Partners

Vudafieri-Saverino Partners design the New Delvaux Flagship Store in Tokyo

aktis architects

Merricks House by Aktis Architects