Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

Civic Theatre Restoration

Until recently, an 800-seat theatre venue in downtown New Orleans has been a shadow of its colorful days of stage performances, music and vaudeville. But it has come to life again. Originally built in 1906 by local architect Sam Stone, the theater was one of New Orleans’s first “fireproof” theaters (built of masonry and steel instead of wood framing). The design concept for the interior combines two ways of thinking about the architecture. For the original Beaux Arts interior, we stabilized the current condition of the theatre and embraced the beauty found in the imperfect, the incomplete and the impermanent. Existing plaster was retained and repaired, and the entire original interior was provided a soft, matte whitewash to reveal the intricacy of the historic detailing.

Added program components were designed to stand in contrast to the original architecture, clearly new and independent by virtue of a more contemporary design aesthetic. These new program elements include larger, upgraded restrooms, multiple bar venues and lobby/waiting areas. These spaces are enclosed within a variety of glass surfaces – a mix of clear, frosted and mirrored glass (depending on program requirements) fritted with an ornate, layered pattern inspired by the original plasterwork found throughout the building. The multivalent textural contrast of these new spaces establishes a romantic, ephemeral aesthetic that transitions the guest into the language of the historically restored performance space.

Designed to seat 800, with room for 400 additional standing-room-only patrons, this renovation project’s exterior work includes a new roof & waterproofing, new HVAC equipment, new signage, new lighting and new box office & entrance canopies. The ground floor is designed to provide a variety of seating configurations, with removable seats and adjustable floor platforms which can be raised or lowered to accommodate various events ranging from concerts and musical performances, to banquets and flat floor corporate events, to traditional theater and dance.

Location: New Orleans, LA Map This Location
Size: 15,700 square feet
Year of Completion: 2013
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