Cleveland’s Allen Theatre opened in 1921 as a 3,080-seat movie house. It was spared from the wrecking ball in the 1970s. In the late 1990s it underwent a renovation that reduced the number of seats to 2,500, and it reopened in 1998 as a venue for live theatre. By 2010, it was marginally utilized, a victim of changes in the entertainment industry and the national economic downturn.
The reconstruction of the Allen Theatre was made possible by a unique collaboration among three organizations: the Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University, each of which needed to build new performance facilities; and Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare, the second-largest theatre district in the country (after New York’s Lincoln Center) and the largest total historic theatre district in history, with 10 renovated, reconstructed, and new insertion venues.
ALLEN THEATRE AT PLAYHOUSESQUARE
Submitting Firm: Westlake Reed Leskosky (architect, engineer)
Acoustician: Talaske and Associates
Construction manager: Turner Construction Co.
Size: 81,500 sf (renovation), 44,000 sf (addition)
Construction cost: $30 million
Construction time: August 2010 to December 2011(Phase I) and January 2012 (Phase II)
Delivery method: CM with GMP
All three entities were clients of local architecture firm Westlake Reed Leskosky, which brought them together to fulfill their professional and educational agendas. WRL provided all architectural and engineering services, with Talaske and Associates as acoustician and Turner Construction Company as construction manager.
The $30 million project resulted in three new theatres in the existing 81,500-sf space and a 44,000-sf contiguous addition: the Allen Theatre, the Second Stage, and the Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre.
The Allen Theatre was transformed into a 512-seat proscenium stage theatre. The space was downsized to improve acoustics and allow for vocal clarity without the need for amplification. New sidewalls featuring scrims of perforated metal were constructed, designed to reflect sound to patrons in and under the balcony. The area under the balcony was redeveloped into a lounge and pre-show events space.
The Second Stage is a transitional space that flexibly seats up to 348 and is equipped with seating wagons that can transform the stage area into multiple configurations. The Helen is a 150-seat black-box theatre for smaller performances and educational programs.
All three theatres were up and running by this past January. With the addition of these new venues, PlayhouseSquare expects at least 150,000 additional guests to patronize the renovated theatre district each year. +