Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts 
Alto, New Mexico


The Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts represents the convergence of the theater of landscape and the theater of performance.  The site, which is situated in the middle of the Fort Stanton Mesa in southern New Mexico, stands dead center between Sunset peak on the east horizon and Sierra Blanca peak to the west, along the axis of the summer sun.  Sierra Blanca, meaning white mountain, becomes the initial locus for the building's form and position.  The white theater is a sculpted limestone mass that has been excavated into exact relationships between light, views, performance, and procession.  The wedge-like form of the theater suggests a monolithic piece of stone that has forced its way up from beneath the crust of the mesa.  Lodged within a fissure, and erupting from the north flank, is a crystalline, chandelier-like shell of laminated glass linking the vertical procession to the upper lobby and entry to the theater house.  This faceted glass entry lobby and gathering space contrasts with and consciously subverts the mass of the body of the building.  A laminated cracked glass balustrade defines the vertical ascent of the ceremonial stair and upper lobby edge.  Laminated cracked glass also forms pivot panels which give flexible closure to the upper level theater club.  Once on the upper level there is a reorientation to the eastern view from an exterior gathering space.  The west end of the structure focuses on a geometric garden from a recessed exterior stage platform.  A covered drop-off zone penetrates the wedge north to south providing an all weather entry.