Civic Theater Courtyard

Originally built in 1906, The Civic is the oldest theater in New Orleans and was created by the Shubert Brothers, theatrical pioneers credited for establishing the Broadway theater district in New York. Since it’s inception, it has hosted concerts, films, plays, and burlesque under multiple names and owners. The original entrance to the theater was on Baronne Street through an open-air arcade, but was transformed into the lobby of a condominium building during the renovation in 2015. As a result, the entrance was relocated through an alley off of O’Keefe Avenue.

Situated between two tall building facades along a linear alleyway, the design is comprised of a screen wall that conceals the adjacent parking garage and a covered outdoor space that marks the entrance to the theater. Despite being separate elements that delineate the unique conditions of passage and gathering, one species of wood was used to create a homogeneous transition between wall and enclosure. The screen wall contains no visual interruption; a singular element, expressed using two materials, that compliments the monolithic brick facade of the adjacent theater. The covered entrance framed beyond can be seen from the street, but only reached through the proper spatial sequence. It sits slightly above the street like a porch, a place of refuge and conversation. 

In an effort to create a highly crafted, unique project on a strict budget, design, fabrication, and installation were all done in-house ensuring complete control during the design and construction process. The wood posts and siding were made using a Felder sliding table saw / shaper and an adjustable taper jig. One board yielded two screen wall posts when cut in half using the angled jig, while simultaneously eliminating material waste in the process. By alternating the direction of the module, variation was created within the screen wall that visually changes throughout the day as the shadows move across the surface. The shiplap and reveals of the wood siding were made from 1x material using a shaper, which allowed for concealed fastening, material movement, and a similarly scaled surface module. 

The Civic Theatre Courtyard was informed by New Orleans, as it is difficult to ignore the history of one’s City; a sliver of space between buildings and a courtyard framed beyond. This project is about that moment of looking through one space and into another.

Project Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Project Completion: 2017