Stanford’s historic Roble Gym: restored and renewed

Roble Gym (Image credit: L. A. Cicero)
Roble Gym (Image credit: L. A. Cicero)

Stanford’s historic Roble Gym is in the last stage of a $28 million renovation to provide new program spaces for theater and dance productions of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS).

Finishing touches over the summer include the completion of a new dance studio and the outfitting of a new “arts gym,” a flexible rehearsal and art-making space for the general student population.

The restored and renewed Roble will open to students when the fall term begins in September, but a few lucky summer high school students are already breaking in the acting studios. REBECCA CHALEFF and KELLEN HOXWORTH, doctoral students who are teaching theater as part of Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies Summer Arts Institute, brought students to the Roble acting studios to rehearse. Chaleff will return to Roble in the fall as a performer.

BRANISLAV JAKOVLJEVIC, TAPS’s department chair, looks forward to showcasing the range of the new black box theater and renovated dance studio in the first weeks of the fall quarter.

“In mid-October, we will present the dance State of Darkness, which the renowned American choreographer MOLISSA FENLEY set to the music of Igor Stravinsky‚Äôs Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) and performed by our Ph.D. candidate Rebecca Chaleff,” Jakovljevic said.

A couple of weeks later, the musical Spring Awakening will open in the new black box theater.

“So, in the fall we are starting by exploring the ambiguity and potential of the notion of the spring as the new beginning,” Jakovljevic continued.

The black box theater has flexible seating options for dramatic works, and the renovated dance studio for rehearsals and productions in dance has been outfitted with new projection and sound equipment and climate control as well as additional spaces for rehearsals and instruction.

The arts gym is a one-of-a-kind drop-in art-making studio and rehearsal space for students working on independent projects or extra-curricular activities. This new light-filled, flexible space will be equipped to do everything from oil painting to 3-D printing to recording music to screening films.

“Roble Gymnasium is a fine example of Spanish Eclectic architecture, built by architect ARTHUR BROWN,” said SAPNA MARFATIA, director of architecture in the office of the University Architect/Campus Planning & Design.

“Originally designed as a women’s gymnasium (and the women’s health center), the building has been used as a dance studio for 70 years. The renovation project converted one of the studios to a performing arts theater and a new arts gym replaced the existing locker rooms,” she said.

“Without compromising the historic character of the complex, the project will enhance the usability of newly renovated facility through barrier-free access, structural and code upgrades,” Marfatia said.