DALLAS - In four months, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, a collection of venues in one area in downtown Dallas, will be completed.

At a cost of $354 million, the site will include a major park, an opera house, a theatre, an artist square and a performance hall.

Inside the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, seats can be moved in any which way to create an intimate environment for performances. Those passing by will often be able to see through the windows that run along Ross Avenue.

"This is a vertical theatre," said Mark Nerenhausen, President and CEO of the center. "There is no other like it in the country. Typical theatres are stretched horizontally. It's vertical, and it's emphasized by that you literally walk down into the lobby."

Outside of the theatre, a ten-acre area will soon become Sammons Park. The urban park is the connector for the theatre, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the Annette Strauss Artist Square and the City Performance Hall.

Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre

"People who never go to a performance will still benefit from it," Nerenhausen said. "Imagine all the people in these towers here coming outside for lunch."

The windows of the opera house will open up like garages, allowing people to either relax inside or out.

"The canopy is angled so that during the hottest time of year it shades the park," said Maria May, a spokeswoman with the center.

The shade will also help keep the energy bills down for the opera house

"Wow isn't a big enough word for it," Nerenhausen said.

The opera house consists of a massive stage and 2,300 seats.

Ninety-five percent of the center is funded by private donations.

"It changes the way Dallas is perceived in the world," Nerenhausen said. "Suddenly here's one more reason for the world to notice us."

An estimated cost for four shows at the center is about $100.

All the sites are also available for weddings, parties and recitals when the venues aren't already booked.


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