project details

City of Cedar Rapids

OPN Architects
Martinez & Johnson

Theatre Consultant
Schuler Shook

Main Street Studio

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Paramount Theatre and Symphony Center

When cleaning up the Paramount after the flood of 2008, the City of Cedar Rapids uncovered...possibility. A fearless, congenial steering committee listened to our arguments for "restoration with enhancements". Digital acoustic modeling helped make the case for subtle changes to walls near the stage and a removable reflector above it and, in turn, convinced the State Historic Preservation Office to go along. The enhancements, along with a deeper stage and robust new orchestra shell, have unleashed the voices of Orchestra Iowa, the Opera Theatre, and the Ballet to the delight of their audiences. A strapping new audio system flatters touring bands and shows, video integrated with the orchestra shell anticipates a multi-media future, and retractable banners hidden in the cornices provide variability rarely found in rooms of the '20s. The project is a case study in honoring the present and further life of a building as well as its history, all in a single statement.