The lights on the Loew's Kings Theater's marquee have been dark for over 35 years since the last showing of Islands in the Stream in 1977. In fact, the entire king-size, 3,200-seat, French-Baroque movie palace is looking quite dim these days, much of its ornate plasterwork worn, damaged, or missing from years of decay and neglect and its terra-cotta facade in need of cleaning. City officials had to string ropes of temporary construction lights through the still grandiose, if a little shabby, lobby, just to make the announcement on Wednesday that Brooklyn's largest indoor theater is coming back to life in a big way thanks to $93.9 million in new investment from public and private sources. Built in 1929, Chicago-based firm Rapp & Rapp's design of Loew's Kings Theater was inspired by the Paris Opera House, its lobby featuring a flowing mahogany and marble staircase even Charles Garnier could admire. Loew's Kings is one of the five decadently ornate "Wonder Theaters" built around New York City, representing the theater-operator's flagship venues and designed in eclectic styles from Cambodian Neo-Classical to Rococo and Atmospheric villa courtyards. (Be sure to check out AN's photos of the theater from our tour in 2011.) It was at the foot of the Kings' grand staircase that Mayor Bloomberg joined other city officials to announce the groundbreaking of the restoration effort, which is expected to return to theater to its original glory and open it to performances by 2014. The city has owned the theater since 1983, when it was seized in lieu of tazxes. Over the years, the roof has been sealed up and some structural problems fixed—just enough to keep the building mothballed for future restoration. In response to a 2008 RFP, Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group was selected by the NYC Economic Development Corporation to refurbish the theater. ACE has previously restored other historic theaters, including the Boston Opera House and the noteworthy Chicago Theater, also designed by Rapp & Rapp. The company has been working to restore the Kings' interior for several years now, but with a new 55-year lease granted to the Kings Theater Redevelopment Corporation, a consortium including ACE, Goldman Sachs, and the National Development Council, full-scale restoration can begin. Plans call for expanding the facility from 68,000 square feet to 93,000 square feet to accommodate a larger back-stage area for live performances. When it opens in 2014, Loew's Kings Theater (1027 Flatbush Avenue) is expected to show 200 to 250 events per year, contributing to an overall resurgence of Flatbush Brooklyn.
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Last week AN learned that Hollywood's Capitol Records building may be in for a dwarfing by two new adjacent towers. Now we learn from our friends at Curbed that the historic Hollywood Palladium, renovated in 2008 by Coe Architects, might also be in trouble. Miami developer Crescent Heights is about pay $55 million for the Palladium site, and it's rumored that they want to build luxury apartments or condos there. The 72-year-old theater apparently has no historic protections, so this could get ugly. Stay tuned.
Supporters of the Portage Theater breathed a sigh of relief Thursday when it was announced a local church would withdraw their bid to acquire the 92-year-old cinema on Chicago’s northwest side. A hearing with the Zoning Board of Appeals had been scheduled for Friday, from which Chicago Tabernacle sought a special use permit to convert the theater into a house of worship. The Portage is known around Chicago for its Silent Film Festival and as the set for some scenes in Public Enemies, a 2009 film about bank-robber John Dillinger. It had become somewhat of an anchor for economic development in the Six Corners business district of its Portage Park neighborhood, after a 2006 renovation pulled the aging theater out of hard times. “Save the Portage” became a rallying cry around town when the church announced their plans in March. Roger Ebert and 45th Ward Alderman John Arena were among the many who flocked to the theater’s side. Its management applied for landmark status with the city in April. Chicago Tabernacle is reportedly in “final negotiations” for another site, potentially a defunct movie hall at 3231 N. Cicero Ave.
Fresh off his completion of the Pershing Square Signature Theater in New York, Frank Gehry is now designing a new home for Culver City music venue Jazz Bakery. According to the LA Times the project will be located on a narrow strip of city-owned land next to the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The plan happened quickly because the city worried that the elimination of the Culver City Redevelopment agency (which had administered the land) might ruin the project's chances. The theater company, which used to be located in the Helms Bakery complex down the street, wants to build a two-story building containing a 250-seat concert room and a small black box theater. The overall budget is $10.2 million, although Gehry is planning to do his part of the job for free.
Faceted steel screens solve acoustical problems while keeping the theater's ornate 1920s architecture on viewThe Allen Theater is one of eight venues in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square performing arts district. Opened in 1921 as a silent movie house, the Italian Renaissance-style building was renovated in 1998, when it began to host large Broadway productions and concerts. More than ten years later, the Broadway productions had moved to the nearby State Theater, leaving the door open to new resident companies Cleveland State University and Cleveland Play House. Last year, the 81,500-square-foot theater closed to undergo a dramatic transformation from its 2,500-seat format to a more intimate 500-seat proscenium theater. In the new space, designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL) and opened in September, faceted steel screens created by Toronto-based architectural fabricator Eventscape not only enhance acoustics but also hide or reveal the theater’s traditional interior finishes depending on the desired aesthetic. Though beautiful, the existing Allen Theater had technical issues including poor sight lines and less-than-ideal acoustics that the architects had to contend with to create an ideal live-performance space. Working with WRL’s 2-D CAD sections and elevations of the new theater, Eventscape’s design and engineering team made a 3-D model of the space using SolidWorks. In collaboration with Illinois-based acoustical consultant Talaske, they adjusted the facets that would form 2,400-square-feet of scrim on the theater’s sidewalls. The walls consist of 300 brake-formed, laser-cut perforated steel screens, each with a unique shape. Three-quarters of the screens are backed with a clear copolymer sheet to reflect sound. Gradient perforations, ranging from 28 percent openness to 46 percent openness at the top, make the screens transparent when lit from behind. Finding a means by which to attach the clear acoustical copolymer sheeting to the steel screens was a challenge. Lamination of two materials using clear, medical-grade UV cured epoxy glue failed when subjected to temperature testing. Eventscape found an alternate solution by applying more than 10,000 1/8-inch diameter weld studs by hand, using a laser-projected grid pattern to place them precisely. For every panel, the installation team hand-tightened custom laser-cut clear washers over corresponding holes in the copolymer. The holes are slightly oversized, allowing for differential movement between the steel and its backing. Panels were fastened to structural steel tube framing clipped to existing steel columns in the theater. After mocking up the assembly in its Toronto workshop, Eventscape tagged the panels with an electronic ID system to ensure easy assembly on site. While the venue’s transformation has delivered drama so far, its second act is still in the works. Two new theaters, a flexible 300-seat Second Stage and a 150-seat Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre, will open in 2012 to complete the Allen Theatre Complex to be shared by PlayhouseSquare, Cleveland Play House, Cleveland State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance and Case Western Reserve University’s MFA Acting Program.
Longtime repertory company A Noise Within (ANW) will complete its move to Pasadena at the end of October. Formerly located inside an old Masonic Temple in Glendale, it now calls Edward Durell Stone’s midcentury modern Stuart Pharmaceutical Company home. The project was carried out by John Berry Architects, Robert J. Chattel, and DLR Group WWCOT. You might remember back in May when we showed you the project still under construction. ANW staffers have now started to move in and perform technical runs for their inaugural showing of Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night. The building's exterior shows no visible additions, keeping its distinctive modular screen wall embellished with gold knobs. As promised, the rooftop addition sits stepped far back, unnoticed until you actually look for it. The entire scene remains stark white and concrete until you descending to the performance area on the lower story, which opens up to a luxuriously purple-hued, 300-seat, tiered theater. "It’s undoubtedly a beautiful artistic playground,” said Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, ANW co-founder and co-artistic director. Despite a successful fundraising campaign the scrappy 20-year-old theater group is asking for contributions to help it polish off the edges. Among its need-a-contributions list? Dry wall, insulation, STC rated doors and fixutres. See the complete list of needs here.
Tonight gives Angelenos the chance to check out the classic film The Music Man inside the Los Angeles Theater. With its glass chandeliers, Corinthian columns, and intricate Baroque details, the Los Angeles is one of the most ornate movie palaces you'll ever visit. It's the second week of Last Remaining Seats, the LA Conservancy's popular series that opens up Broadway's once great (and now mostly dormant) theaters again. That includes the Orpheum, the Million Dollar Theater, and more. This year is Last Remaining Seats' 25th Anniversary. Other engagements include King Kong at the Los Angeles and Sunset Boulevard at the Palace. Find tickets here. More pix of theaters after the jump.
Like many outlying parts of the city, Brownsville fell hard from its turn-of-the-century grandeur, with decaying reminders of its former greatness. Among them is the Loews Pitkin Theater, once home to the likes of Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Humphrey Bogart, and Al Joelson's last performance, as well as thousands of eager movie goers. The building has been closed since 1969—until last week, when a ground breaking was held for a new charter school and retail complex. Curbed and Brownstoner were among those in attendance, and they got some pretty amazing pictures of the building's decrepit interiors (see some after the jump). We've since been sent the above rendering by the developers, POKO Partners, who are working with Kitchen & Associates, a firm based in Collingswood, New Jersey on the renovation. According to POKO, the project will mesh what remains of the building's sumptuous Art Deco interiors with high-tech, sustainable features, creating something at once historic and cutting edge. The base of the building will house some 70,000 square feet of retail with a 90,000-square-foot, 1,100-seat elementary and middle school above, run by Ascend Learning. The project is expected to be completed in the next 18 months. "The Loews Pitkin Theater is exciting because it embodies POKO¹s core values of revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing communities through positive and responsible real estate development," POKO President and CEO Ken Olson said in a release.