QEA’s redesign of the Garden Theater Block recreates a quintessential urban block through creative infill and careful restoration.
Anchoring one end is a rehabilitated commercial building with a neighborhood coffee bar and offices above. Dominating the block is the historic Garden Theater, rescued from virtual collapse and turned into a contemporary events venue, and restaurant/bar. Connecting the two is a sensitively designed, contextual new retail/office building. Nestled behind the block, a three hundred car parking deck provides parking while minimizing its impact on surrounding urban fabric.
Contrast and Balance
The design of the Garden Theater artfully balances the restoration of remaining historic features with the insertion of significant contemporary elements, creating a visual tension that enhances the experience of both the old and the new. The diverse elements of the façade design tell the history of the building. The Victorian brick of the original exterior provides a contrasting background for the later Beaux Arts white terracotta theater entry, while a new metal arched canopy echoes the missing original decorative canopy and adds a contemporary note. This layering of history gives a hint of the transformation within.
Grounded in History
This urban theater is a dynamic blend of historic preservation and contemporary design. Originally built in the 1890s as a characteristic three-story commercial building, the building was transformed into a theater with the construction of an addition in the 1910s by prolific theater designer C. Howard Crane. By 2010, the building was partially collapsing after three fires and years of neglect and vacancy.