About ASU Gammage
An architectural landmark, a home for the arts
Located on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University, ASU Gammage is among the largest university-based presenters of performing arts in the world. ASU Gammage is the home theater of the PROGRESSIVE® Broadway Across America – Arizona series and the ASU Gammage Beyond series. Its mission is to connect communities through artistic excellence and educational outreach. ASU Gammage is an historic hall designed by internationally renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s final design for an opera house most likely would not be still standing today if it was built in its originally proposed location – Baghdad, Iraq. Instead, Wright’s final design – ASU Gammage – became a multifunctional performing arts facility at Arizona State University (ASU).
In 1957, then ASU President Grady Gammage had a mission to create a distinct university auditorium. He called on close friend and famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to assist with the project, who had the Iraq design already in mind. During a tour of the campus, Wright took a liking to an athletic field and said, “I believe this is the site. The structure should be circular in design and yes, with outstretched arms, saying ‘Welcome to ASU!’”
Wright worked on the sketches for the building during the last two years of his life. His most trusted aide, William Welsey Peters, brought his plans to finished form. Wright served as architect and the building’s bold design is his.
Neither Wright nor Gammage lived to see the transformation of the blueprints. Wright and Gammage died in 1959. In 1962, R.E. McKee Company from El Paso, N.M. was hired for construction and four days later, Grady Gammage, Jr. turned the first shovel of dirt in the official groundbreaking.
Construction of the $2.46 million building took 25 months. Gammage stands 80 feet high, eight stories by normal building standards, and measures 300 by 250 feet. Two pedestrian bridges add to the feeling of vastness, and extend 200 feet like welcoming arms. ASU Gammage was completed in September 1964. ASU Gammage is the only public building in Arizona designed by Wright.
The 3,000-seat performance hall offers three levels of seating, with the furthest seat only 115 feet from the stage. The acoustics are well balanced, and the design of the grand tier assures an even flow of sound to every seat.
The stage can be adapted for grand opera, musical and dramatic productions, or for symphony concerts, organ recitals, chamber music recitals, solo performances and lectures. The remarkable versatility of the stage is enhanced by a collapsible orchestra shell which, when fully extended, can accommodate a full orchestra, chorus and pipe organ. The shell is telescoped into a specially designed storage area when not in use.
The first event was held September 18, 1964. The Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Eugene Ormandy filled the hall. Since then many national and international dance companies and Broadway plays have taken the stage as well hundreds of well-known celebrities, musicians and performers. ASU Gammage was also host to the 2004 Presidential Debate.
Today, ASU Gammage is among the largest university-based presenters of performing arts in the world. ASU Gammage is the home theater of the Broadway Across America – Arizona series and the ASU Gammage Beyond series.
A Message from Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Executive Director
I am proud to have led ASU Gammage for more than 16 years and have been fortunate to see our programs grow and our audiences grow with us. We have over the years presented Broadway’s BEST but also a diverse array of artists from across the globe in all artistic disciplines through our ASU Gammage Beyond series and our programming at ASU Kerr Cultural Center.
Our goal is to entertain and challenge our audience by presenting new, diverse and thought-provoking performance opportunities. If we have inspired community conversation about a topic relevant to one of our productions than we know we are on track with our mission of “Connecting Communities.”
There are University presenters and performing arts centers all across the country providing entertainment and community engagement opportunities for their patrons. So what makes ASU Gammage distinctive?
- We are one of the top touring Broadway markets in the country, and the Broadway Across America – Arizona series serves as an economic engine to the Valley.
- I am honored to be Arizona’s only Tony Award® voter and therefore see all the new shows playing on Broadway in order to bring the best titles to ASU Gammage.
- We were one of six lead partners with 13 other universities to participate in ground-breaking performing arts research, “The Values and Impact Study.”
- Gammage Residency serves as a national model for performing artists and provides performing artists an opportunity to engage with our students, community and audience over a three-year period.
- Our cultural participation programs reach more than 35,000 students and teachers from nearly 100 schools and more than 19,000 under-served children experience ASU Gammage Residency programs annually.
We do all of this in fulfillment of our mission and ASU’s commitment to Excellence, Access and Impact. It is our privilege to be a key component of the cultural landscape of the Valley and we could not do it alone. Please help us to thank our ASU Gammage VIP supporters and patronize our VIP Gammage sponsor organizations. They play a critical role in all we do at ASU Gammage.
We look forward to your active engagement in our cultural participation programs and attendance at performances. Thank you for being part of the journey.
Executive Director, ASU Gammage & Assistant Vice President of Cultural Affairs
Arizona State University