Building Community

To express opera’s unique mission of engaging and educating the public through the performing arts, the Seattle Opera tapped NBBJ to establish a new “front door” that opens up the craft of performance and revitalizes the Mercer Arts Corridor in Seattle.

Bringing world-class performances to the public requires the coordinated efforts of many people, but the beauty and richness of the behind-the-scenes work is typically hidden from public view. For decades at the Seattle Opera, rehearsal studios, craft shops and costume and makeup rooms were tucked away, unapproachable to patrons and neighbors.

The Seattle Opera at the Center turns the traditional program inside-out for the delight of patrons and the community — revealing the beautiful “behind-the-scenes” efforts that must coalesce to create a performance. A corner glass-box rehearsal space engages the street with frequent performances, while curated views into the costume shop inspire with color and craft.

Offering public outreach programs via educational classes, rehearsals, apprenticeships, open houses and more, the Seattle Opera at the Center significantly expands the Seattle Opera’s reach beyond those who only attend formal performances in McCaw Hall.

The resulting building brings energy to the street, breaking down the barriers between audience and art. It choreographs the intricate workflows of divas and carpenters, painters and directors, musicians and accountants — all to open up opera to the public.

“ Education and engagement are at the center of Seattle Opera’s mission and the design of our new home is meant to be a physical manifestation of that mission. ”

Aidan Lang Former General Director at the Seattle Opera

Awards and Publications


Associated General Contractors of Washington, Build Washington Award
ASLA Ohio Chapter, Merit Award


Seattle Magazine, “Seattle Opera at the Center Is the New Crown Jewel of Seattle Center,” December 14, 2018
Seattle Times, “Seattle Opera has big plans for its new headquarters at Seattle Center,” February 15, 2018
Seattle Weekly, “Seattle Opera’s New Heart of Glass,” December 12, 2018