Norman Bel Geddes Database
Job 15, Theatre Number Six (Diagonal Axis), 1915-1929, 1947
One of Bel Geddes's most influential innovations was the diagonal axis theater which he developed very early and published in 1915 in his Inwhich magazine. He re-purposed this plan as Theater Number Six in a 1922 presentation to the Architectural League of New York. Shortly after, Claude Bragdon publicized Geddes’s innovation in an article in Architectural Record.
Geddes, by centering the stage and auditorium on a diagonal rather than the traditional longitudinal axis, was able to double the stage area and utilize eighty-four percent of the theater space. More seats were made available in a smaller area, and, as Bragdon stated, “Every spectator sees everything on the stage at all times. The entire scene yields a sense of luminous space and distance impossible in the existing type of stage ... There can be no bad seats in this type of theatre.”
The diagonal axis design was adopted by many other architects and designers and served as the basis for many of Geddes's subsequent theater designs.
Geddes used images of Theater Number Six in his 1947 article about the Flexible Theatre (job 90; Norman Bel Geddes, "Design for a New Kind of Theatre," New York Times Magazine, 30 Nov. 1947).
Hunter Code: TH 36
Hunter Guide: page 192