Six-page PDF of NorShor Theatre preliminary schematic designs
That's too many pages, and too 2-dimensional. I'm just gonna assume that's where the local branch if the NSA is stationed.
Yep, definitely NSA. We're onto you, PDD.
Looks awesome. Now if only someone could afford to pay for it.
Folks, you paid $2.6 Million for buildings that will take millions more to rehabilitate. And the scary thing is that we/you don't know how we're going to pay for it. It's a "fixer-upper" that we spent our last nickel on to merely buy. The sad thing is, is that $2.6 million of "economic development" funds were used through DEDA to buy it. That's $2.6 million that could have been used on viable economic development efforts. Now we've admitted that state bonding probably isn't near-term available, so we're going to explore other options? This should have all been figured out before we bought this property.
Even if the NorShor isn't raised from ashes, the Skywalk right-of-way that the city gained from the purchase (which includes the Temple Building) would have cost a pretty penny when they get that far. It is part of the long-range plan for the Skywalk.
Right. As I understand it, we bought a skywalk right-of-way to fulfill obligations to the Casino and the Hospitals that happened to include a theatre.
On to the design ... I will surely have quibbles but on first glance I like seeing the long abandoned remaining upper balcony space of the original Temple Opera (milk) house used in this quasi-inverted vision.
I also like how they have resolved many of the acoustic issues of the mezzanine stage by having it face um ... west or toward the auditorium space. I suspect there will be much much debate about this in Duluth's hipster-nerd-arts-creative scene.
It looks like they are taking the Green Mercantile store space, too. Or am I looking at that wrong? I don't exactly know how to read blueprints.
I'm probably not much better than Wildgoose at interpreting these drawings, but I'm pretty sure the Green Mercantile is the square in the center of the zoom-in below on the auditorium-level plan, which doesn't appear to be interfering with the storefront. However, the conference room, director's office and reception area might be where there's a backroom at Green Merc -- I can't really tell. Of course, these are also "preliminary schematics," so we shouldn't presume any of this is set in stone.
The locksmith shop on the east side of the NorShor also seems to be left as is on the front end, but the back section of that area is drawn as restrooms, which makes sense -- restrooms are needed on that level and there would be nowhere else to put them.
Thanks for sharing! And thanks for everyone who has gotten this as far it has, it's a great thing to see a vision of what is to come!
@Todd, What do you propose should have happened with the space? Sure made for a bad strip club (as if there are good ones).
IMHO, two things stuck out to my un-architecty eyes. Firstly, I noticed the removal of the balcony screen/wall? Did I read that right? I might have some questions about that. While the balcony theater is an alteration of the 1940's alteration or the original design, it does provide for a multi-purpose space that's usable and of a unique size and capacity in this market. I must have read that design doc incorrectly, are they proposing to get rid of the balcony theater and return it to the main room and balcony as one large space? If so, I think that might need some revisiting.
@Wildgoose -- you're right ... as odd as it seems, the stage in the mezzanine really should be back against the lake side of the mezz area ... facing the frescoes. A transparent plexiglas wall (think hockey arena) would allow for visual impact, safety and acoustics. I guarantee that any bands playing on a stage facing the milk bar will seem too loud ... even if they're trying to play softly ... there will always be someone who wants to sit at a bar and not be at the focal point of the acoustic throw. Moving it to where it always has been will also allow for room mix to be across the platform (facing the lake just like it always was) and give a sound tech a better vantage for proper mixing of the space.
Again ... it's super exciting to see the treatment of the space! Our old buildings are a huge economic treasure. If we were to allow the shortsighted destruction or long-term deterioration of these irreplaceable endowments, we would be absolutely foolish. Who is ever going to build something like Old Central or grand theater/opera houses like the NorShor again?
I agree with Baci that the lounge stage shouldn't face the bar.
I also agree that restoring the balcony to a balcony might not be wise, and would also add that I don't think adding main-level seats up front helps either. Both of those choices, as drawn, will make the theater more attractive, but I think less practical. How many shows will require that much seating?
I've always liked that there are not seats in the front of the theater. I don't like to sit at shows (I sit in front of a computer all day). I like that there's room to move around, talk to people, dance, spill drinks, etc. If there's seats up there it becomes another version of the DECC Symphony Hall.
Of course, when there's an opera it's better to have seats. When Reverand Horton Heat comes to town, those seats are a nuisance. But sure, some people like to sit; everybody's not like me. So I understand it's a tough call.
The first 20 rows of seats in the auditorium should be removable. In addition to the applications that Paul discusses there is also the possibility there for tables for lounging, work groups or even alternate staging (such as for boxing, acrobatics, dance, etc). These are important revenue streams.
As for the "little theater," I am ambivalent about it. It was a terrible idea at the time but it may have ended up saving the theater from becoming a parking ramp or an empty lot in the 1990s, as it ushered in the multi-media NorShor model with film, visual art, music and theater in the same building, sometimes at the same time as demonstrated so ably by Rick Boo (and so quixotically by me).
Also, I have an architectural question. I thought I saw that the upper, upper level "attic" was going to be remodeled into a small theater or workshop/rehearsal type space. Can an architecty-type person look at the plans and tell me if I am seeing that correctly. The legends are true, there are still some seats up there, doors to nowhere and glimpses of lost 1910 Duluth era craftspersonship on display up there, even after all of the years of essentially being abandoned. I'd love to see that saved.
Back to the mezzanine controversy, I think that as designed it effectively is "gutting" of that stage's role in Duluth rock culture. As imagined here we are going to be seeing a jazz trio, maybe a singer-songwriter with a guitar, or your high school a cappella group there, but not the Keep Aways or the Black Labels.
It pains me to see how traditional and uninspired the architects have been.
Um .. yeah .. "Orchestra pit"?!?! Now upon further examination, I see a few items here that , IMHO, need to be thought through a bit more. An Orchestra pit seems like a bit of wasted space and locks it into a single purpose room. Leave the main floor open and reconfigurable to maximize the ability to host diverse events in the facility. I've been on more than one video shoot that used the open space on the main floor. While not an "event" it sure paid some bills. Opening up the balcony again commits that huge space to a single use. Isn't the DECC auditorium good for that type of thing? Let's think about flexible use here! I DO like all the other stuff I see re: bathrooms, accessibility and offices/storage/utilities. Speaking of utilities, if the balcony was to be opened, doesn't that make for a bigger heating bill? Run a cat walk across the back of the current balcony wall that allows for lighting on the main stage and side to side access in the balcony theater. A flexible space is a profitable space.
The DECC Auditorium holds around 2,200 people. The NorShor theater in it's 1940s incarnation had seating for about 1,200, Baci. (Someone please correct me if I am wrong). So there is a size gap between the venues that could be a niche that might draw some more different kinds of acts to the area. The thing is, the opening of Clyde Iron a couple of years ago has taken a great deal of the "need" for such a space in the Duluth-Superior market.
At this point I feel it is redundant and wasteful to develop this as a 1,000-plus fixed seat venue. If they do that I may join the "boondoggle/wasteful spending" camp. But again, like I said before, I'm not sure I completely understand the blueprints. The architects probably understand renovating historic theaters very well, but they may not understand Duluth economics and the Duluth arts scene as well as they need to to make a redesign work.
The skywalk right-of-way the city gained...
Just walk outside for a block.
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