Theatre architect Douglas Stebbins, 54, of New York City died Monday (Nov. 4, 2013) of complications from liver disease.
Although he did not have any children of his own, Douglas is survived by concert halls, opera houses and performing arts centers around the world which will be enjoyed by generations.
He is also survived by his mother, Anne Shirley Stebbins; five brothers, Russell (Nancy Sun), John David, Peter (Meg), Mark and Michael (Robert Harp) Stebbins; and nieces and nephews, Laura, Matthew, Emily, Sarah, Chris, Nick and Riley Stebbins.
Among Douglas’ achievements were two Broadway renovations central to the turnaround of Times Square in the 1990s (The New Victory and the New Amsterdam Theaters), major performing arts centers (such as Miami Performing Arts Center, the Guthrie in Minneapolis, the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford and the Four Seasons in Toronto), projects worldwide (in Macao, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul) and renovations to world renowned centers like Lincoln Center, Ford’s Theatre, the Apollo Theatre and the Arena Stage in DC.
He joined Fisher Dachs Associates, a theatre planning and design consultancy, in 1995 from Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. While architects like Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel and Lord Norman Foster designed the outsides, Douglas focused on the insides and behind the curtain areas of the halls making sightlines, seating and stage & set logistics work, while staying within code and on budget.
Douglas was most proud of his work on Mariinsky II Opera House, a 2,000 seat, $700M theatre in St. Petersburg, recently opened by Vladimir Putin and artistic director Alexy Gergiev. Combined with the Mariinsky dating from 1860 (known as Kirov during Soviet times and home to Tchaikovsky’s operas and the ballets of Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker and Swan Lake) and the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, it will result in what some have called St. Petersburg’s equivalent of Lincoln Center. Overcoming the technical challenge of the Mariinsky was his crowning achievement. Colleagues have said that only about five people in the world have the insights that he brought to the specialized industry of theatre design.
Always an avid artist, Douglas was born the third of six boys to Schuyler and Shirley Stebbins, grape farmers in Silver Creek, NY. A graduate of Silver Creek Central School in 1977, Douglas attended Onondaga Community College and NYIT before get-ting his Masters in Archi-tecture from Syracuse University.
Douglas spent the rest of his life in New York City. He loved the city and passed that love of the city on to his nieces Emily and Sarah. He had a love of Mackintosh (Charles Rennie, the Scottish architect) and Macintosh (all things Apple) as well as a good dance party and travel, especially to Barcelona.
An event to celebrate his work is being planned in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests sending donations to the S.C. Stebbins scholarship fund (Silver Creek Central School District, Attention: Mary Kaye Clouden, PO Box 270, Silver Creek, NY 14136) which goes to graduates who worked on farms.