Current owner Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) began operating the space in the late 1980’s as a performing arts magnet high school as well as a theater space for local and traveling companies to rent. But the lack of sufficient space and antiquated technology hampered the efforts of both the school and performing groups.
Architecture, art and advisory firm Svigals + Partners were selected to design a major renovation with crucial historic preservation components. (The site received landmark designation in 1984.)
“The theater required additional support spaces and modern infrastructure, and had to function more appropriately for the school,” notes Julia McFadden, AIA, an associate principal with Svigals + Partners. “And though the structure was not architecturally significant, its importance to New Haven and the city’s arts community required that the renovation include preservation as a guideline.”
The project scope included:
- Tearing down an older addition to build a new one (adding 2,000 square feet).
- Replacing existing foundation walls one section at a time to maintain the structure’s stability.
- Retaining the 16-inch-thick steel-reinforced concrete walls and steel truss roof with timber decking.
- Refurbishing the exterior with careful attention to details like color and awning styles.