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1412 I Street Northwest
Washington, DC, 20005
United States

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.

Colonial Theatre

Photos by Whitney Cox

 
 

colonial theatre

Pittsfield, Massachusetts


This historic theatre survived a brief stint as a hardware store before being completely restored to its original glory, with the added addition of a state-of-the-art stage house and new back-of-house support spaces.

 

Opportunity

This 1000-seat playhouse originally opened in September 1903 and offered the residents of Pittsfield and surrounding Berkshire County region the opportunity to see some of the finest stage entertainers of the day. It closed as a playhouse in 1934, becoming a movie theatre from 1937 to 1949, and finally closed in 1952. The building was designed by local architect James McArthur Vance, but the theatre is the work of renowned theatre designer JB McElfatrick and Sons.  The 1951 purchaser of the theatre used the building as a store for fifty years, but always saw the potential for restoration such that the mercantile treatment was executed in a reversible way.

 

Creation

Martinez+Johnson worked with the Colonial Theatre Association, a non-profit group fully restoring the theatre. The project is a Save America’s Treasures awardee, and has received significant funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to restoring the lobbies and audience chamber, the stage house was rebuilt, new back-of-house support under the audience chamber was provided, and the loading and stage movement area behind the theatre was expanded.  

M+J also designed a Visitor’s Center adjacent to the building that provides additional lobby area and new vertical circulation mitigating intrusion into the historic fabric of the theatre. A planned Phase Two will assemble more patron support and community use, more back-of-house space, and a possible second smaller stage.

The Colonial is now home of the Berkshire Opera and of many community groups. Flexibility and versatility were important considerations and as a result traveling theatre and music is a now large part of the program and the Colonial Theatre Association envisions producing or incubating theatre product as well.


Owner: the colonial theatre association c/o David Flemming

Completion: 2006

Size: 47,000SF

Cost: $22.5M

AWARDS: 2007 Seven Wonders of the Berkshires – FIRST PLACE AWARD

2007 Metroland – Berkshire Eagle Reader’s Choice "2007 Best of the berkshires" – Best Live Theatre

2007 Metroland – Best Theatre Restoration

2008 METROLAND – BERKSHIRE EAGLE READER’S CHOICE "2008 BEST OF THE BERKSHIRES" – BEST LIVE THEATRE

2008 Metroland – Best Venue (showroom)

2008 Preservation Massachusettes – Paul E Tsongas Award Recipient

 
 
THE COLONIAL IS A STORY ABOUT HOW A COMMUNITY CAN COME TOGETHER AND NOT ONLY BRING A WORLD CLASS THEATRE BACK TO LIFE.

BUT ITSELF AS WELL.

MARTINEZ + JOHNSON PROVIDED THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE TO RESTORE THE COLONIAL THEATRE TO ITS 1903 APPEARANCE AND ENABLE IT TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF THE BERKSHIRES AS A MODERN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER.

- Mayor James W Ruberto, City of Pittsfield 2008
 
 
 

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