Local Arts

Carolina Theatre project progresses

tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Foundation For The Carolinas has announced Gensler will be associate architect for the renovation of the Carolina Theatre at Belk Place.

Gensler will be paired with the lead design team on the theater project, Westlake Reed Leskosky, an Ohio-based firm with deep expertise in the restoration of historic theaters.

“The process for selecting our local design firm was extremely competitive. The strength of (Gensler’s) team and their extensive design experience made them the ideal partner,” said foundation Executive Vice President Laura Smith, in a statement.

Gensler is a top-ranked global design firm with local offices in uptown Charlotte. The team of Ernie Munoz, James Hatley, Holly Christian, Jack Ossa and Jennifer Williams will be responsible for the design of the foundation’s expanded workspace, which will rise above the theater lobby, as well as construction administration for the theater itself.

The foundation is restoring the 36,000-square-foot historic theater, located adjacent to its headquarters, to create a civic engagement space. The community foundation has raised $27 million toward its $35 million fundraising goal for the project.

The newly renovated Carolina Theatre at Belk Place will provide a convening space for town hall meetings, symposiums and debates. In addition to civic initiatives and learning opportunities, the theater will also host films and artistic performances.

Planners expect the theater will be a catalyst for the North Tryon Vision Plan, the foundation’s broader effort to revitalize uptown’s North Tryon Street corridor, in partnership with Charlotte Center City Partners and other stakeholders.

In a statement, Gensler’s Ernie Munoz applauded the broader plan: “This project is an opportunity to pay homage to the past, while building an energetic public platform for philanthropy in the Carolinas.”

Munoz is managing director at Gensler and will be principal-in-charge for Gensler’s scope of the project.

The Carolina Theatre was built in 1927 and was once a major performance venue for the Charlotte region, hosting such talent as Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn and Elvis Presley. The city of Charlotte gifted the theater, which has stood vacant since 1978, to FFTC in 2013.

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