Something Different: Architects, Designers, Builders to Discuss How they Resurrected the Parkway Theatre

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For years, Baltimoreans witnessed the gradual process of demolition, fundriaisng and rebuilding that went into restoring the sparkling new Parkway Theatre. Later this month, we’ll have a chance to hear from some of the architects, designers and other key contributors to the historic theater’s resurrection.

The American Institute of Architects’ Baltimore chapter will host “Designing the Parkway” on Wednesday, Oct. 25, offering an evening of moderated discussions about the theater’s redesign featuring reps from design firm Post Typography, Ziger/Snead Architects and general contractor Southway Builders. The event is part of Baltimore Architecture Month, which celebrates the city’s most historic and unique buildings throughout October.

A listing describes the night as “a conversation and behind-the-scenes look at the rebranding of the Maryland Film Festival and how Baltimore’s grandest abandoned movie theater was transformed into a 21st-century landmark.”

The Parkway opened earlier this spring for the 2017 Maryland Film Festival, drawing crowds and heaps of praise as moviegoers took in some of the best in independent film from around the world. The premiere followed a years-long, $18 million renovation campaign that saw buildings knocked down and a blockade of a section along North Avenue.

The Parkway originally opened in 1915 and screened films until it shuttered in 1978. The building then sat neglected for decades before it was restored over the past several years. It’s now a shining multi-level theater in Station North, complete with a modern aesthetic that’s nevertheless preserved many of its historic elements inside.

Bruce Willen, principal and co-founder of Post Typography, described it as a “transformative” project from a cultural standpoint. His firm worked closely with Ziger/Snead to craft signage and branding complementing their design.

“The theater has been frozen in a state of somewhat semi-decay, and it was a bold choice for the architecture,” he said. “With the graphic design, we tried to match that bold choice and be sensitive with the building.”

Other firms pitched in too, with Southway Builders handling construction and Seawall Development Corp. offering consulting help. Post Typography also contributed literature for fundraising.

The Oct. 25 event will include a happy hour starting at 5:30 p.m. and a series of discussions beginning at 6:30 p.m. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, a local writer and contributing editor for ARCHITECT magazine, will moderate the talks.

Willen said guests that evening will learn about details that they might not notice otherwise about the theater — for example, the printed fabric panels placed along the balcony to resemble lattice work. They should also be able to see different designs that the architects drew up as they worked on the project.

“There’s gonna be a lot of talk about the process that went into it,” he said.

Click here to get tickets. The event is free to students, $5 for American Institute of Architects Baltimore chapter members and $10 for everyone else.



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