Posts tagged with "Amphitheaters":

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Hollywood's historic John Anson Ford Amphitheatre set to reopen after major renovation

The newly upgraded and renovated John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles is making its official debut this weekend following nearly three years of construction. Levin & Associates Architects acted as design architect while Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) performed landscape architecture services on the $72.2 million project; both firms are based in L.A. The 1,200-seat outdoor amphitheater complex was originally built in 1931 as a replacement structure for a previous theater that had burned down. The complex—then known as the Pilgrimage Theatre—was built out of masonry to resemble the fabled gates of Jerusalem. The original complex utilized rough, board-formed concrete surfaces throughout, with smoother treatments deployed across the crenelated towers and walls that make up the theater’s stage areas. The completed renovation brings a new two-story, 11,055-square-foot concessions and office structure to the complex that includes a commercial kitchen, new projection booth, control room, and a series of catwalks designed to optimize new stage lighting upgrades. The renovations also carved out 3,500 square feet of “found space” from underneath the stage. The removal of the underlying bedrock allowed the design team to address rampant drainage issues—The stage is embedded into the hillside site, an arrangement that resulted in storm runoff rushing directly into the complex’s basement levels. Levin & Associates also added ADA-compliant artists’ spaces, including accessible restrooms and dressing areas, as well as new telecommunications systems. MLA has reworked the hillside landscape behind the stage to introduce a native “generational landscape” that will age gracefully in place and is designed to be held in place by a series of retaining walls. The landscape architects also added a series of mature tree specimens to the site, including two mature coast live oaks and two strawberry madrone trees. The amphitheater area is wrapped in a modular acoustical metal panel wall assembly that is designed to keep sound from performances inside the complex while deflecting the traffic and noise of the nearby Interstate-101. The entry and approach areas of the complex were also reworked to be ADA-accessible.
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Ford Amphitheatre renovation takes shape as summer season begins

The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, a nearly hundred-year-old institution nestled in the scrubby, sandy hills of the Cahuenga Pass north of Hollywood, has already lived a handful of lives over its relatively short existence. And as it approaches its centennial, the amphitheater is undergoing its latest upgrade: A $65.8 million makeover by Los Angeles–based Levin & Associates Architects and landscape architecture firm Mia Lehrer + Associates due to be completed this September.

Originally designed in 1920 as a wooden amphitheater by arts and crafts architect Bernard Maybeck, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, then called the Pilgrimage Theatre, was the original home of author and Pittsburgh Paint heiress Christine Wetherill Stevenson’s religiously themed Pilgrimage Play. That structure burned down in a brush fire in 1929 and was replaced in 1931 by a board-formed, poured-in-place concrete hippodrome designed by architect William Lee Woollett, who also designed the Million Dollar Theatre and the Rialto Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles.

The 1,200-seat structure was built to resemble the gates of Jerusalem, with crenelated parapets and corbel arches crudely carved into the crotch of what was then a remote hillside. This configuration left the complex subject to the cascades of rocks and runoff that come down the surrounding slopes during the region’s characteristic downpours. The theater, which continued holding performances of Stevenson’s play long after her death in 1922, came under the namesake of arts-supporting L.A. county supervisor John Anson Ford in 1976 and thereafter grew into a world-renowned community arts performance space.

The structure has been under the stewardship of Levin & Associates since 2014, undergoing what principal Brenda Levin described as “a near total reconstruction, not really a renovation.” Levin & Associates, responsible for the 1991 rehabilitation of the iconic Bradbury Building as well as the 2015 renovation to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, is tackling its latest legacy project with gusto. Here, the firm aims to divert flood waters from the theater’s underground artist support areas, expand the dressing room and staging areas, reconstruct the amphitheater stage, and construct a new sound-isolating wall designed to keep traffic noise out and music in. Mia Lehrer + Associates is responsible for stabilizing the lush, nearly postmodern backdrop of raw, palm-tree-lined scrub directly behind the stage through the addition of native and Mediterranean flora and a network of stone-clad retaining walls. The project adds a two-story structure, also of board-formed concrete, but lacks the original structure’s neo-Judaic flourishes that will hold lower-level concessions, a kitchen, and an office space. A state-of-the-art stage and lighting system is also being incorporated into the design.

Phase one of the renovation is complete, the theater reopened to the public on July 8th with the new buildings coming fully online in October. Plans for subsequent phases include a new three-level parking structure, 299-seat indoor theater, box office, museum-gallery, and hiking trail, which are due to be complete by 2020.

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A theme park inside a 2,000-year-old Transylvanian salt mine is like playing on another planet

Each year, thousands of visitors descend into Salina Turda, a Transylvanian salt mine dating over 2,000 years. In its lifetime the salt mine has had many uses, storing the coffers of Hungarian kings and Habsburg emperors, providing shelter during World War II, and even operating as a cheese storage center. In 1992, Salina Turda reopened as a visitor attraction, and after 16 years and $6.5 million of investments, has transformed into a museum and theme park. British photographer Richard John Seymour, documented this subterranean destination. Salt Mine Bridge. (Courtesy Richard John Seymour) Salina Turda's attractions include ferris wheels, spa treatment facilities, recreational sports, boat tours, and an 80-seat amphitheater, all backdropped with stalactites and salt formations, captured in Seymour's photographs. In the chambers, visitors inhale the salt mine's purifying air, and spa guests are treated with halotherapy. Salina Turda’s biggest mine is the bell-shaped Theresa, reaching approximately 300 feet and containing a salted lake. As Seymour's photographs show, the theme park provides small boat tours of the meteoric waters. https://vimeo.com/57143945 Seymour said, "I am often drawn to contradiction in my work, where the heroic, idealistic, or epic meets mundane reality. Salina Turda embodies this idea particularly well. It is an undeniably beautiful historic monument of engineering and human endeavor, but it is now used as a theme park with ping pong tables, bowling, and boat rides." Richard John Seymour's photographs will be on exhibition at the London Art Fair from January 20–24. For more of Richard John Seymour work visit his website here.
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How architects and artists turned an urban dump in Chile into a performance space

Sitio Eriazo—a Chilean collective of recent graduates from theater, art, and architecture schools—worked with the Oslo School of Architecture and Design's Scarcity and Creativity Studio to recover an abandoned urban space in Valparaíso, Chile. First, the team cleared waste to attract less vermin, and provisional closures were installed in the four points of street access. Then, the Wave—a flexible performance space for theater, circus, and music—was installed. Wooden stairs and seating sit upon staggered ribs and beams. Underneath of the undulating seating is a semi-shaded space where food is grown, prepared, and distributed to audience members. Currently, Sitio Eriazo's audiences reach up to 100 people. The Wave is also a space for workshops and community projects. Sitio Eriazo uses workshops to promote art and cultural activities and to strengthen Valparaíso's local identity.  In 2003, Valparaíso was titled a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO described Valparaíso as, “In its natural amphitheatre-like setting, the city is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides that are dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides.” Sitio Eriazo and the Scarcity and Creativity Studio not only recovered Valparaíso’s heritage within an abandoned lot but have made it a tool for cultural growth.
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Eavesdrop> First as Tragedy: What's up with LA's Greek Theater?

When the discussion for Los Angeles Recreation & Parks to give Live Nation the contract to manage The Greek Theatre were scuttled earlier this year, it was unclear what would come of the proposed modernization of the 5,900-seat venue by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Word from inside the office says the project is moving forward with new designs to come, even as Pennsylvania-based SMG looks poised to win the event management contract.
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Navy Pier's new "Wave Wall" by nArchitects lays a modern Spanish Steps at the foot of a Ferris wheel

Navy Pier is three years into a $278 million overhaul, and the new face of Illinois' most visited tourist attraction is beginning to emerge—most recently a grand staircase titled “Wave Wall" washed over the foot of the pier's famous ferris wheel. The peninsular mall and mixed-use amusement park has many major changes still in store, courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. But photos available on the website of designers nARCHITECTS reveal a completed portion of the project collectively called “Pierscape” that creates an outdoor amphitheater from a simple stairway. (The full design team includes dozens of consultants.) The form of the new public space, which faces south into Chicago Harbor, resembles a sweeping wave or a wending draft of wind. Treads made of composite materials domesticate the snarling steel risers. Glass beneath the steps allow passersby indoors at the Pier to glimpse activity on the steps outside. From the bottom of the stairs, the project unspools into an audience seating area for public performances, and also frames the historic Navy Pier Ferris wheel—a 196-foot tall wheel will soon replace the current one, itself a stand-in for the 264-foot icon first transported to the spot from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The designers say “Wave Wall” was inspired by the Spanish Steps in Rome.
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Bittertang Farms' organic amphitheater sprouts from straw in Lake Forest, Illinois

Work wrapped up this summer on Bittertang Farms’ installation at Ragdale, the nonprofit artists’ community in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, and true to its plans the straw amphitheater springs forth from a lush hillside in Lake Forest, Illinois. Designers Michael Loverich and Antonio Torres of The Bittertang Farm won $15,000 earlier this year to erect the 102nd Ragdale Ring—an ongoing design competition for temporary outdoor theater spaces in north suburban Chicago. Based in Mexico City and New York City, the designers evoked the theater’s bucolic setting with straw-filled tubes of biodegradable material. Dubbed Buru Buru, Bittertang’s amphitheater creeps up from the soil with straw wattle tendrils. Wrapping around a framework of trusses, it forms a pentagonal opening whose womb-like quality is only enhanced by LEDs that illuminate the interior at night. Buru Buru’s organic elements are more than a formal nod to fuzzy ideas—the structure is actually meant to entwine with its natural habitat over time. In addition to sheltering actors and activating the rolling hills of Lake Forest, Buru Buru is also a substrate for growing grasses and mushrooms.
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Bittertang Farms sculpts hay into a North Shore theater for 102nd Ragdale Ring competition

Studio Gang’s treehouse revamp of Writers Theatre isn’t the only North Shore performance space to dance with organic forms. Designers Michael Loverich and Antonio Torres of The Bittertang Farm won $15,000 to install a temporary stage for performances in Lake Forest, where renderings show sculpted piles of hay and wavy architectural forms that “melt into the existing landscape.” Their design will be the 102nd iteration of the Ragdale Ring, a competition that invites architects, designers, and artists to cook up ideas for a temporary outdoor theater space on Chicago’s suburban North Shore. The nonprofit Ragdale Foundation has supported artist residencies and exhibitions since its founding in 1897 on the grounds of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s summer home in Lake Forest, Illinois, 30 miles north of Chicago (1230 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, Illinois). “At Ragdale we are creating a new ground—one that brings together different architectural forms, including grottoes, gardens, mounds and hay piles to create a structure that can be performed ‘on’ as well as ‘under,’” said Loverich and Torres in a statement. Construction on the temporary structure will begin this month, with the public unveiling scheduled for June 14. The debut will be a benefit show featuring a “masked garden party” and performances by musicians and actors inside the Ring. “The Ring will serve as a gathering place, enlivening the historic campus of Ragdale as a place of dynamic artistic and architectural experimentation,” said Zurich Esposito, executive vice president of the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), juror, and a member of Ragdale’s board of directors. “And, when the season concludes, the Ring is ultimately biodegradable.” The design appears as a larger version of an installation the firm built on New York City's Governors Island in 2011.
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SCI-Arc Receives $400,000 Placemaking Grant

SCI-Arc, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, will be extending its reach into the community with the creation of three public venues made possible by a $400,000 grant awarded by ArtPlace. The grant, funded by private foundations and public agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts, seeks to encourage creative and locally focused placemaking; $15.4 million in grant funds is allocated to 47 projects located across the country. SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss wrote in a statement, “If architecture, as SCI-Arc has always proclaimed, speaks by building, the ArtPlace contribution affords us two special construction moments to ratify what we preach.” The school plans to put the grant toward the design, planning, and construction of an amphitheater, an outdoor pavilion, and a theater inside the nearby One Santa Fe arts center. These projects will carry forward the momentum created by the school’s purchase of its historic 1907 home last year, engaging the community and planning for the area’s future. With the new construction SCI-Arc hopes to contribute to developing the surrounding Arts District with public programming and gathering space. The first venue to be built is the amphitheater (dubbed the “Hispanic Steps”) located in the center of the SCI-Arc building. It will have rise seating for lectures, performances, screenings, and public meetings and is expected to be completed this fall. The outdoor venue, located at the school’s entrance, is a 750-seat pavilion and will be the Arts District’s largest public programming space. Groundbreaking on the pavilion is scheduled for spring 2013 and it will serve as the 2013 Graduation Pavilion. Working with the community, SCI-Arc will also help to plan a 99-seat theater located in the developer-funded One Santa Fe arts center, a mixed-use, transit oriented development adjacent the school.