paramount theatre renovation and symphony center expansion
cedar rapids, iowa

Project Team

OPN Architects
Martinez & Johnson

Theatre Consultant
Schuler Shook

The Iowa flood of 2008 inundated the beloved, Vaudeville-era Paramount to a depth of 8 feet above the stage, destroying much of the first floor and all of the basement spaces. Cedar Rapids used the tragedy as impetus for a significant update of the building to better accommodate the orchestra, opera and ballet in addition to touring music and Broadway shows. The renovation includes an expanded flytower, a new orchestra shell, new seating and an independent reflector above the forestage in addition to all new mechanical, theatrical, and AV systems. Acoustic modeling of the room so compellingly demonstrated the advantage of filling in two side wall niches near the proscenium that the Iowa Historic Preservation Office permitted the change – benefitting the orchestra with a clearer, more present experience on the orchestra level and greater warmth for the room as a whole.