- The City is working in partnership with the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation to undertake a $16 million capital campaign to fund a full restoration and modernization of the theatre to restore its former glory and assist the city with the renovation and future management of the theatre.
- The Plans for the Restoration of the Theatre are nearly complete.
- In 2018 the City engaged the international architecture firm Gensler and historic preservation firm Chattel to develop a comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation plan. The Gensler conceptual plan called for a complete restoration of the historic aspects of the theatre, installing approximately 700 new seats, the expansion of the current lobby, significant infrastructure repairs and the installation of new theatre equipment, and significant structural improvements to meet current fire prevention and Americans With Disabilities Act mandates.
- In 2022, Architectural Resources Group, Inc. was chosen to complete the design and oversee the renovation. Architectural Resources Group has completed several other historic projects of similar scope.
- The City of Palm Springs will handle the construction bid process and contractor selection together with the Plaza Theatre Foundation. The City will also oversee the construction contract, and construction disbursements.
- Construction completion is currently anticipated in the fall of 2024.
- The Plaza Theatre Foundation will work with the City to identify a professional theatre operator to manage the theatre for the city once it is renovated
Detailed plans were created by Architectural Resources Group (ARG), the architectural firm selected by the Foundation and the City of Palm Springs. ARG has a philosophy and appreciation for the past and an eye toward the future and was one of the first preservation design firms to have an in-house conservation laboratory and to integrate architectural conservation into the practice of historic preservation
The renovation of the Plaza Theatre will provide needed updates to the building’s infrastructure and modernize it to meet current health and safety standards while staying true to its celebrated historic past. The theatre’s original exterior appearance will be maintained but new glass doors will be placed in the existing arches. This will substantially enlarge the lobby by incorporating the area currently under cover but currently outside of the main doors. By enclosing this space, the stairs to the balcony will finally be enclosed and air conditioned. A new fully integrated sound system will be installed to bring life to live performances and reduce costs of renting sound equipment for events. The building’s HVAC system will be replaced with a new system that is energy-efficient and quieter than the existing system. Lighting fixtures will be restored or recreated from the original 1930s plans to provide better illumination. The apron (or ‘thrust’) of the stage will be expanded to provide a bigger performance area. To bring the theatre up to current standards, the dressing rooms will be renovated with improved restrooms and related facilities. A reconfigured floor plan will ensure every seat in the house has optimal sight lines, adding more wheelchair accessible seating, and an ADA compliant dressing room and restroom will be added adjacent to the stage.
The Plaza Theatre is an excellent example of the “atmospheric style” of design that was popular in the late 1920s and early 30s when the theatre was originally constructed. Atmospheric theatres were designed and decorated to evoke the feeling of being outdoors through the use of projectors, architectural elements, and ornamentation. The Plaza Theatre’s original auditorium design resembled a Spanish courtyard under a nighttime sky. In preparation of the restoration, paint samples were taken and examined to determine the theatre’s original color palate, and the original blueprints and historic photos were consulted to confirm which elements were original and which had been added over the years. The new plan includes restoration of the atmospheric walls and proscenium arch, reinstalling new ceiling “star field” lights, installing new seats, and adding new carpet in the aisles and lobby
The Foundation worked with experts to uncover the theatre’s original color palate and materials, and this has guided the design process. In addition to restoring the building, the Foundation is delivering on the promise to increase accessibility and balance historic preservation with state-of-the-art technology.
Plans were submitted to the Historic Site Preservation Board in March 2023.
Construction is anticipated to begin in the first half of 2023. It is projected that the work will take approximately one year to complete, allowing the Plaza Theatre to open in the summer of 2024.
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