Guthrie Theater


Courtesy Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center

Guthrie Theater
Ralph Rapson
  • Architecture

Theater director Tyrone Guthrie had placed an open solicitation in The New York Times seeking an American city to host a new resident theater. Minneapolis eagerly applied and was accepted. Built on the grounds of the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie Theater was designed by Ralph Rapson, who had been working with the Walker on a possible auditorium near its museum building. Opening in 1963, the theater was particularly striking with its elaborate architectural scrim facade, its asymmetrical open thrust stage designed in collaboration with Tanya Moiseiwitch, and its colorful seating scheme. Widely regarded as one of Rapson’s most important works the beautiful signature facade eventually failed and the theater underwent several architectural renovations over the decades and was ultimately razed when the Guthrie opened its new facility along the Mississippi River. Its signature thrust stage and seating were, however, recreated in the new building designed by Jean Nouvel.