A total of 13 projects recognized as part of BD+C's 28th Annual Reconstruction Awards.

November 10, 2011

Modern TheatreSILVER AWARD
Modern Theatre, Suffolk University , Boston, Mass.

Designed and constructed in 1876 by architect Levi Newcomb, the three-story Modern Theatre originally housed two cast iron storefronts and a carpet storage warehouse. In 1913, architect Clarence Blackwell converted the building into a theater—the first structure in Boston designed and built specifically to show motion pictures. After a minor rehabilitation in the 1970s, the structure was sold in the 1980s, and it remained vacant and neglected for more than 20 years.

When Suffolk University acquired the structure, most of the facility was in disrepair. Only the limestone façade and a few fragments of the auditorium’s treatments could be saved.

Modern Theatre OldClick here for a list of Products and Materials used, exclusive images of the Modern Theatre, and an UPDATED version of the Modern Theatre story, which appeared in the Feb. 2012 issue of Building Design + Construction.

Work on the building began in November 2008 and was completed in October 2010. The Building Team, which included submitting firms CBT Architects (architect) and Suffolk Construction Co. (general contractor), as well as McNamara/Salvia (structural engineer), Zade Associates (MEP engineer), and Structures North Consulting Engineers (structural engineer), rebuilt the entire 70,000-sf structure. A new stage and auditorium were nestled into the modernized space, fronted by a two-story lobby space, which doubles as a gallery. A 10-story residence hall was built above the theater to encourage more students to live on campus. The restoration of the façade, a condition of purchase when Suffolk University bought the structure, was accomplished largely by hand, block by block.

“With 10 stories of resident housing above, the recreation makes the building more functional while also making it look like a late 19th-century theater,” said Walker Johnson, FAIA, BD+C Reconstruction Awards Honorary Chair.


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