How to save a theatre: The Orpheum, Vancouver.
Laing, Richard Alexander
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LAING, R., 2013. How to save a theatre: The Orpheum, Vancouver. Structural Survey, 31 (5), pp. 355-367.
Purpose - This paper concerns the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, which survived the threat of major internal demolition and rebuilding during the 1960s and early 1970s. The building has subsequently undergone significant restoration and conservation work, including the incorporation of modern acoustic improvements, and the construction of a new entrance area. Understanding the mechanisms through which the building was restored and brought back into use formed a central strand of the work. Design/Methodology/Approach - The research employed a single case study approach, and used the Orpheum Theatre to simultaneously study and consider the practical and heritage implications of the restoration project. Findings - The manner in which the building was restored was unusual and rooted in the community, and holds resonance for many similarly at risk theatres and cinemas, in both Canada and elsewhere. Practical implications - The paper is interesting both from the perspective of that refurbishment, and also from the fact that it was designed by a prominent Scottish architect, B. Marcus Priteca, who designed a large number of early movie palaces in Canada and the USA. Social implications - The heritage value of the building is influenced by layers of historical, social and cultural information, which combine to provide a rich picture of the theatre. Originality/value: Through exploration of the processes involved in saving the building, the paper draws conclusions regarding its importance to the continued vibrancy of the city.