The American Shakespeare Center presents award posthumously to Blackfriars Playhouse architect

“Make magic, Tom,” was the instruction given to architect Thomas K. McLaughlin as work began on the Blackfriars Playhouse, which opened to the public fifteen years ago on September 21, 2001. Mr. McLaughlin indeed made magic. Since the opening of the Blackfriars, that magic has resonated through over 4,500 performances of 214 productions of 99 plays and delighted nearly 1 million patrons.

In recognition of McLaughlin’s contributions to the thriving organization, the American Shakespeare Center posthumously awarded him the prestigious Goodfellow Award at the Annual Benefit Celebration on Saturday, September 24 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. The Goodfellow Award, named after the character Robin Goodfellow (Puck) in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is given annually to a person whose contributions to the American Shakespeare Center have been fundamental to the mission of making the joys of Shakespeare accessible to all. The award was accepted by McLaughlin’s wife and daughter, Mary and Mary Elizabeth McLaughlin.

Thomas K. McLaughlin grew up in Tarboro, North Carolina and earned a master’s in architecture at Harvard University. Although the Blackfriars Playhouse was his most beloved project, it was not the only project of note throughout his distinguished career. Among them are the Boston Children’s Museum, the St. Francis Cancer Center, and the Oliver Hills Court Building. His peers refer to his talents as “prodigious.” He died in his Richmond home on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at the age of 62.

“Tom was the most affable zealot I have ever met. He had an unquenchable joy in his work and being with him in England as he researched buildings that might tell him something about how the interior of the Blackfriars looked was an opportunity for me to soak up that joy,” ASC Co-Founder and Director of Mission Ralph Cohen said while presenting the award. “And I know that what he built for us here in Staunton is a theatre that puts all who visit it in a living conversation across the centuries with the world’s great playwright, William Shakespeare.”