O’Reilly Theater

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The close relationship between audience and stage reinforces the totality of the theater experience

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Completion Date

Theater 53,000, Plaza 24,000 SF, Garage/Retail 320,000 SF

Project Type

Legitimate theater for the resident company

We designed the O’Reilly primarily for the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s spoken drama and comedy productions but also for occasional music, dance and film. By surrounding the flat-floor thrust stage with steep semicircular banks of seating, we created an intimate relationship between audience and performer. The materials, shape and details of the room create an acoustic environment that does not require amplified sound.  

Designing the theater-going experience

From walking along the street to being seated in the auditorium, theater-goers experience the exhilaration of attending performances, enhanced by the dynamic curving forms of the building.   A vaulted copper roof overhanging the sidewalk defines the circular two-story lobby and prefunction balcony and reflects the shape of the rehearsal hall above. The curves also foreshadow the horseshoe shape of the auditorium where the audience surrounds the stage on three sides.  

Creating community through the arts

Our master plan for a block along Penn Avenue revitalized Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. The O’Reilly Theater anchors one end and Agnes R. Katz Plaza the other end. We designed the Plaza in collaboration with artist Louise Bourgeois and landscape architect Daniel Kiley. A later phase, Theater Square, filled the lot in between with a service center containing retail, a 250-seat cabaret theater, radio station, Cultural District ticket office, and 791-car parking deck.     

Tom Rowe, AIA

Principal, Design Practice Leader
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Karen Nichols, FAIA

Principal, Design Practice Leader
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At Michael Graves, we create designs that clients dream of. We care not only about what we create; we care whom we create it for.