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Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects

© Ed White

Architects: Henriquez Partners Architects
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Area: 6,171 sqft
Year: 2012
Photographs: Ed White, Harold Kalman

© Ed White

From the architect. The York Theatre renovation is the result of a decades long struggle to save a historic community theatre from demolition.

© Harold Kalman

Originally built in 1913 as the Alcazar Theatre, the building changed identities numerous times over its storied 100-year history. Ten years after it first opened, it was purchased by the Vancouver Little Theatre Association, (Canada’s oldest continuously operating community theatre company), which reopened it as the ‘Little Theatre’. Then a major renovation, introducing an art deco style exterior, led to its re-launch in 1940 as the York Theatre.

© Ed White

Over the years that followed, the building’s appearance and uses continued to evolve. It hosted everything from live theatre, to Bollywood movie screenings, to punk and grunge rock concerts (performers included Nirvana, Sonic Youth, D.O.A. and the Dead Kennedys).

Location Plan

In 2007, a developer purchased the theatre site and had a building permit to construct a three-storey, five-unit townhouse development. After two decades of community activism, the theatre was again a target for demolition, and was listed on Heritage Vancouver’s 2008 Top Ten Endangered sites.

© Ed White

However, a feasibility study conducted by the team at Henriquez Partners Architects, in collaboration with Jim Green & Associates, demonstrated the viability of reinvesting in the theatre. As a result, the City of Vancouver added financial backing to enable the rehabilitation to proceed.

Grpund Floor Plan

Hired on to undertake the renovation, Henriquez Partners Architects’ revival of the York Theatre involved fully restoring the entry to match the 1940 art deco façade, completely renovating the theatre space to again serve as a performance venue, and adding a new, modern two-storey glass lobby.

© Ed White

The performance space features 365 seats, a traditional proscenium arch, a fly tower, a balcony and an orchestra pit. Christopher Gaze, (artistic director of Bard on the Beach) noted while touring the renovated facility: “the acoustics are excellent”.

© Ed White

The intention of the expanse of glass featured in the new lobby design is to make the theatre feel open and accessible for people in the community, and to animate the street life on Commercial Drive. The vibrant red tile, adorning the lobby exterior and sourced from a local BC company, frames the crowd within, and serves as a metaphor for the real performances unfolding inside, (the red tile echoing the stage curtain, and the audience becoming the actors).

Section

The restored theatre is now operated by the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (CULTCH) and is expected to enhance the community’s identity as a cultural hub. On the eve of its official reopening on December 7, 2013, The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, stated: “this 100-year-old historical gem will undoubtedly solidify the local area as a major cultural district. Arts and culture organizations like the York Theatre not only contribute to the vitality of our communities, but also enrich the quality of life of all Canadians.

Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White

Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White

Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Ed White
© Ed White

Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects © Harold Kalman
© Harold Kalman
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects Location Plan
Location Plan
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects Grpund Floor Plan
Grpund Floor Plan

Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects Second Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects East Elevation
East Elevation
Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects Section
Section


* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Rebirth of The York Theatre / Henriquez Partners Architects" 03 Mar 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 04 Mar 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=481846>
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