Designed by Balch and Stanbery, the 1927 vintage Fox Theater was a 1400-seat theater for vaudeville and silent films. Two-story commercial space fronted the streets. In 1931 stage, orchestra pit and dressing rooms were removed, the auditorium was adapted for projection with sound, and decorative elements were replaced with acoustical materials. Ultimately the cinema and commercial uses fell victim to urban decay and remained unused and unattended for over 17-years until purchased and renovated by the City. In 2006 the Fox Theater was re-envisioned as the prime performing arts center serving an audience demographic of 2-million people. Increased to 1650-seats and former commercial areas dedicated to theatre use, the Fox today showcases restored auditorium and lobby areas of original 1927 character plus expanded lobby and perfomer support areas.
Mandated self-sustaining operation was primary to rehabilitation and adaptive redesign. Seismic analysis indicated that the theatre and commercial building were inadequate for seismicity of the area and assembly occupancy. Earthquake risk reduction combined gunite strengthening of concrete and URM walls, additions to foundations, and braced steel structural additions. Life safety provisions accompanied accessibility and energy efficient mechanical, electrical, and theatrical additions. Damage from earthquakes, basement flooding, and vermin infestation required removal of interior finishes and vandalized and stolen fixtures required replacement throughout. Performance and audience additions support major repertoire music, dance, drama and music-drama.
The centerpiece of a $110-million downtown redevelopment was funded by local bond issues. The Fox Theater construction, excluding land costs and fees, was $35-million. Construction was completed 60-days before the re-opening gala, allowing 2-preview-shakedown events.
Lateral force resistance is added for the original buildings with new stage house construction and increased balcony concrete and steel framing. Restoration of the original exterior is scaled and detailed for compatibility with the original period of significance. Interior plaster ornament was drawn and cast full-size from photo records. Front of house theatrical systems retract into the auditorium ceiling and under the orchestra seating as needed for each performance.
Seating is expanded and re-elevated on the main and balcony levels for comfort, view of the stage and life-safety. Stage house replacement includes scenic and lighting for large cast musical and dance productions and a back-lot addition provides cast security with on-site loading docks for labor/time efficient scenery and equipment movement.