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ACT Theater

The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) restored the 100-year-old Strand Theater to meet the company’s growing needs. The new location, set along a portion of San Francisco’s Market Street undergoing a major regeneration, offers an intimate 285-seat performance space with variable floor configuration and a balcony level.


ACT TheaterWSP USA provided full MEP/Fire Protection engineering and commissioning services for this historic renovation project. Additionally, the firm’s Built Ecology group provided high performance building design, which is helping the project achieve a LEED® Silver certification.

The variable floor configuration required a displacement approach to ventilation; air is delivered at the floor level with very low velocity in order to provide comfort to the audience without disrupting performances.

A large storage cavity below the seating area was repurposed for ductwork for the displacement ventilation system. This approach uses higher-temperature air and conditions only the occupied space, reducing the cooling load and increasing the available number of economizer hours.

The redefined space also houses a wide-range of essential amenities expected by today’s actors and patrons, including stage support and back-of-house spaces, dressing rooms, green room, multi-purpose room, and rehearsal space.  Also featured are a separate 120-seat black box theatre and a café nestled in the theater’s publicly accessible lobby.

In 2013, The Strand received a Citation Award in the Unbuilt Design category from AIA San Francisco (AIA SF).  After its completion in 2015, AIA SF awarded the project with its Revitalization Award.  Other accolades the theater has received include an American Architecture Award in 2014 from Chicago Athenaeum; Engineering News-Record’s California’s Best Projects 2015 Award of Merit in the Renovation/Restoration; and the 2015 Outstanding Architectural Engineering Project of the Year from the American Society of Civil Engineers.