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1412 I Street Northwest
Washington, DC, 20005
United States

(202) 333-4480

With a professional working relationship spanning three decades, Gary F Martinez FAIA and Thomas E Johnson FAIA founded Martinez+Johnson Architecture in 1994 to bring their design sensitivities to institutional and cultural projects in urban locations. The 25-architect firm has since established an expertise in three main architectural areas – the restoration and adaptive reuse of historic structures, institutional buildings in urban areas and community settings, and the design and planning of performing arts venues.

Known for a thoughtful design approach to public facilities, M+J develops an intimate understanding of the needs of users, patrons, and operators destined to inhabit the projects of the firm. M+J looks to the future in their design aesthetic even when the context may be firmly rooted in the past and executes creative solutions to facilities both new and historic, where flexibility, ease of operation, and high but versatile performance characteristics are requisite. Venues express aspirational values and goals of the communities within which they are located, and at the same time conform to issues of economic value at the highest levels of environmental sustainability.

Boston Opera House

Photos by Whitney Cox

 
 

boston opera house

Boston, massachusetts


Originally a vaudeville house, this 1928 venue stands among the nation’s finest in opulence, extensive gilt, quality of detailing and is Boston’s only Thomas Lamb theatre. After closing in 1991, the project became trapped in an economic vise grip suffered by many historic performing arts venues. M+J worked with the owner to fully restore and carefully renovate this venue, in order to host Broadway style entertainment, among others.

 

Opportunity

Lacking a sufficiently large stagehouse and dressing support facilities, the theatre could not generate enough economic activity to save and restore the museum quality public spaces.  The goal of the project became to balance the preservation and restoration of the wonderful Baroque interiors with the creation of a state-of-the-art performing arts facility fully equipped with theatrical, lighting, sound, mechanical, electrical, and fire/life safety systems.

 

Creation

The outdated stagehouse was demolished and replaced with a new 100-foot high, steel-framed structure including a dressing support facility. This new “heart” equipped to handle the most challenging modern performances enabled the owners to create an economic engine that would save the “soul’ of the historic venue and restore the magnificent original interiors. During the restoration process, layers of finishes and fabrics were removed by the architects to explore the original color and finish treatment in the theatre. Original carpet and wall covering samples were located, cataloged, and documented for the recreation of these elements in the restored venue. Thirty-foot wide openings in the original ceiling were closed with new plaster, the new work blending carefully with original material that was being saved.  As the design team slowly rebuilt the palette of colors and finishes of the theatre, the full picture of Thomas Lamb’s vision emerged.  

The restoration was completed in July 2004 and the theatre opened with Disney’s The Lion King to great acclaim. The theatre has proven to be an economic catalyst for the city and is considered a victory for preservationists and theatre lovers alike.


Owner: clear channel entertainment

Completion: 2004

Size: 120,000SF

Cost: $30M

AWARDS: 2004 Boston Preservation Alliance – Preservation Achievement Award

2009 AIA  |  DC – Excellence in Historic Preservation

2009 Building of America Award – Community Service Award for construction and renovation

 
 
THE JURY’S EXCLAMATION, ‘TRULY FABULOUS,’ PERHAPS SUMS UP THIS PROJECT, A SPECTACULARLY COMPLEX RENOVATION AND RESTORATION OF A BUILDING OF GREAT HISTORIC IMPORTANCE WITH UNUSUALLY ELABORATE ORNAMENTATION.

...SAID JUROR BOB SIMMONS, AIA, ‘WE WERE VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE STEALTHINESS OF INCORPORATING NEW ELEMENTS WHICH DID NOT IMPOSE ON THE GRANDEUR OF THE ORIGINAL DETAILS.’

- 2009 DC AIA Chapter Awards | Architecture DC | Winter 2009
 
 
 

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