Design awards roll in for Paramount Center
Alison O'Leary Murray
February 24, 2011
Completed less than a year ago, Emerson College’s Paramount Center has won its fourth major award for design. The College’s newest building is a vibrant place where students eat, sleep, and breathe the performing arts. It was constructed on three overlooked parcels that are rich with cultural history: a vacant lot, the once-lavish-then-abandoned art-deco Paramount cinema, and what remained of the birthplace of American vaudeville, the Bijou Theatre.
Accolades for the project, which broke ground in 2007, include the Boston Society of Architects 2010 Honor Award for Design Excellence, the American Institute of Architects New England Chapter 2010 Design Award, the Boston Preservation Alliance’s 2010 Preservation Achievement Award, and the latest – the 2011 Architecture Merit Award of the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology. The latter is specific to architects Elkus Manfredi’s weaving of state-of-the-art theater technology into the restored structure.
“The plan to put these buildings together was ingenious. Design challenges ... were huge … the restoration was meticulous, and the interiors are striking,” commented the jury for the American Institute of Architects New England Chapter.
The College has also been lauded by City of Boston officials for sparking redevelopment in the once-blighted Theatre District.
The 180,000-square-foot building is a unique mixed-use space that includes a renovated 590–seat main theater, a 150–seat black box theater, a sound stage, the 170–seat Bright Family Screening Room, a scene/prop production shop, rehearsal studios, 4 classrooms, 6 practice rooms, 20 faculty offices, a 262-student residence hall, and a student gathering area.
Photo credit: Peter Vanderwarker
Planners and architects have done a careful job in restoring parts of the original building and incorporating them with parts of the new building. "Every nook and cranny is exciting," said Robert Orchard, Executive Director for the Arts. "It's been beautifully reimagined by the College."