Key to the success of GALA’s theater was making sure it would be situated in a prominent, accessible location within the historic theater building. Working collaboratively with the developer, base building architect, and preservation architect, SmithGroup and GALA were able to gain consensus to locate the new 270-seat theater under the historic dome of the old theater at the balcony level, ensuring public access to this cultural gem.
To create this new space, SmithGroup inserted the new theater into the existing historic envelope of the old theater. The architectural language is at once traditional and modern to reinforce GALA's character as a performing arts company, which ranges from classical to contemporary; the new architecture's slightly gritty, urban feel contrasts with the restored beaux-arts decorative plaster ceiling and walls.
Set on top of the former Tivoli Theatre's balcony, the new theater house design uses the existing balcony's stepped concrete for its seating. Adding “shoulders” gives the house a more intimate scale. The stage floor has been placed under the main historic dome, and an aluminum lighting/rigging truss system defines the performance area. The dome, ceiling, and original proscenium remain visible, becoming an integral part of the theater aesthetics. The exposed historic decorative pilasters and infill panels will be relined with acoustical fabric. In contrast, the new walls are covered in bronze aluminum coiled drapery.
The lobby is an entirely new space formed by a new floor and tucked underneath the stage area. The vibrant design echoes the vitality of the theater company and the Latino creative spirit. A curved wall for art dominates the lobby, while the concessions bar creates a focal counterpoint within the space. In addition, GALA is building administrative and workshop space in the basement to expand its education and outreach programs.
Courtesy of SmithGroup, Inc.