Rehabilitation of a former movie theater to a contemporary workspace for a public relations firm, where keeping the historic spirit of the theater alive was a design goal.
Around the turn of the 20th Century, the building at 3308-3314 Magazine Street in the Garden District was built to house a 800-seat, single-screen cinema. Although the original construction date is unknown, it first appears on the 1909 Sanborn maps as “Moving Picture Theater,” and was in operation from the 1910s to the late 1950s. Over the following 60 years, a bookstore and furniture store occupied the space, until a renovation attracted a single tenant in 2012. A second tenant space was vacant until this interior build-out for the national public relations firm Bond Moroch.
Of primary importance to Bond Moroch was how engaging design solutions can reinforce their creative and dynamic workforce in a collaborative way while also providing privacy. A desire to celebrate the building’s cinematic history prompted protection and stabilization of original wallpaper and pressed tin ceilings. This drove the arrangement of new individual offices as interlocking cubbies whose eight feet tall partitions stop short of the existing fourteen foot ceilings, respectfully situated within the space.
Existing brick walls throughout the building were tested and repaired as needed, including interior and exterior repointing. Original lath and plaster along Magazine was retained where possible and repaired as needed. Existing wood sash windows along Magazine were in such disrepair they were entirely rebuilt to match originals.
In a previous renovation, portions of the second-floor joists were lowered two feet below the lobby. This difference in height provided an opportunity to raise the floor to its original height in strategic areas along Magazine. Where the floor remains low, joist pockets remain exposed as a reminder of the building’s changing history. Inspection revealed that years of termite and water damage had compromised large portions of the flooring, so it was replaced using Caribbean Heart Pine, most closely matching the original.
Cleaning and restoration of the tin ceiling allowed installation of new fire and mechanical systems. Apart from water-damaged, high-density fiberboard coves that needed to be entirely recreated by local craftsmen, much of the existing plaster was restored. Wallpaper was also restored and meticulously brushed clean to proudly display its former elegance.
Existing brick walls throughout the building were tested and repaired as needed, including interior and exterior repointing. Existing wood sash windows along Magazine were in such disrepair they were entirely rebuilt to match originals.
A decrepit historic addition at the rear, originally clad in corrugated metal, was replaced with contemporary metal panels, with new windows bringing an abundance of natural light into private offices.
The introduction of new angled walls allows ample display space for an extensive art collection, and new polycarbonate partitions create privacy for conference rooms and offices, diffusing light throughout the space. A brick fragment in the conference room was secured in place as a remnant of one of the building’s historic uses.
Creating one new opening in the masonry, infilled with storefront glazing, defines the entry into the offices from the foyer on the second floor. Original lath and plaster along Magazine was retained where possible and repaired as needed.