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Power Center

The Power Center for the Performing Arts is our most technically sophisticated performance space. It is a fully functioning theatre able to handle the most complex sales meetings, product roll-outs, and corporate presentations, as well as live theatre, dance, and music events.

In 1963, Eugene and Sadye Power, together with their son Philip, wished to make a major gift to the University, and amidst a list of University priorities was mentioned “a new theatre.” The Power Center for the Performing Arts originated from a realization that the University of Michigan had no adequate proscenium-stage theatre for the performing arts. Hill Auditorium was too massive and technically limited for most productions, and the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, too small. The Power Center was built to supply this missing link in design and seating capacity. The Powers were immediately interested.

The Power Center was designed by architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, formerly associates of Eero Saarinen. Designed during an innovative period in theatrical architecture known as "modern classical," the Power Center combines massive concrete columns and mirrored glass with ancient forms. The theatre's interior was designed by Broadway scenic and lighting designer Jo Mielziner, and echoes his work in the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. The audience's seating area is modeled after the Greek theatre at Epidarus, while the stage was an experimental combination of proscenium arch and thrust. No seat in the Power Center is more than 80 feet from the stage.

Opening in 1971 with the world premiére of The Grass Harp (based on the novel by Truman Capote), the Power Center achieves the seemingly contradictory combination of providing a soaring interior space with a unique level of intimacy. Architectural features in the spacious, soaring lobby include two large spiral staircases leading from the orchestra level to the balcony and the well-known mirrored glass panels on the exterior. The lobby features two hand-woven tapestries: Modern Tapestry by Roy Lichtenstein and Volutes by Pablo Picasso, and is frequently used for receptions, luncheons, and weddings.


 power center lobby    power center house  power center - lichtenstein tapestry

power center stage   power center stage



power center lobby

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower