The front facade of the Prince Theatre shown with new entry doors and 

     The Prince Theatre - Circa 1938 - Note that the area currently designed
             to be the foyer, was originally exterior space used for ticketing.


  Design Strategy Goals - Click on the image above to view full-size.

Design Strategy Birdseye View - Click on the image above to view full-size.

Pier Detail

         New Pier Detail - Click on the image above to view full-size.

                                    The historic Prince Theatre
                              A video profile by the Chestertown Spy

 The images above are typical products of our 3D architecture design program.

The Garfield Center for the Arts
at the Prince Theatre

Chestertown, Maryland

Project Documents Folder
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Achieving the Owner's Goals

As is the case with many non-profit entities, the Prince Theatre Foundation came to us looking for guidance, to try and solve a difficult design problem. The Theatre had many needs, a tight budget, and a need to develop a design strategy that preserved what remained of the original Lobby's architectural heritage.

We began our design process by defining the Owner's primary design goals:

◆ To advertise the Theatre as                   a dynamic presence on High Street

◆ To be open and visible to the                 street, so that the lobby                          happenings inside engage                  passersby              

◆ To welcome patrons as a gracious,       enjoyable space

◆ To introduce the beauty of the
      historic interior

◆ To offer drinks and other
      refreshments that help the
      theatre generate revenue

◆ To offer for sale artists’ CDs, and           other gifts, also to generate                    revenue

◆ To honor donors in some
      significant and highly visible

◆ To be a rentable space itself, for           small gatherings, independent of
      the Theatre’s interior

Historic Preservation

When the Prince Theatre was originally built in the 1920's, it had an exterior Foyer, flanked on each side by a ticketing window and a concessions window (See Circa 1938 image). In the 1980’s the Theatre’s exterior Foyer and interior Lobby was converted into an art and jewelry store. At that time one of its two flanking stairways was removed. It seemed the Theatre was to be no more.

But in the 1990’s, Ron and Susan Kerns revived the Theatre. They used the hallway along the west side for a lobby. That worked, even if awkwardly. The Kerns also built 1st floor bathrooms and had to reconfigure the aisles and seating so the auditorium could be entered at the west corner.

Now in the 2010’s we can recreate the lobby – up front and center where it needs to be to reach the public.

We will still need a comfortable flow of people and space from the central outside doors to the auditoriums corner entry – a diagonal path.

However, for Historic Preservation reasons (and HP funding) we must maintain the symmetrical structure of the original lobby’s organization: the coffered ceilings centered over the Foyer and Lobby, the original doorways, and the frieze panels (above the doorways) - all align on center.

Contemporary Design

To gently move the people toward the auditorium’s corner entry we are introducing a new structure of elegant piers nudging the circulation flow onto the diagonal.

Thus the new lobby will have two organizational systems, one central, symmetrical and historical; and the other, contemporary and diagonal – a potential conflict of organizing structures (See our Concept Design Diagram).

If we distinguish the historical evidence, it can stimulate conversations about the truth of the Theatre’s historical symmetry. If the new features are clearly distinguished from the old, we can overlap these two potentially conflicting systems of order to create a visual richness that explicates the history preserved and adds to the patron’s enjoyment.

To manage the conflict, we propose to restore the historical features (upper frieze panels, ceiling beams, stair railing and historic doorways) with their original faux graining. We propose the new features all extend the contemporary and colorful treatments invented for the Lobby Hall in the 1990’s. The new trim can be varnished mahogany. Thus the two ordering structures can be color-coded for clarity and richness, making it obvious what is authentic history and what is new.


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