The Plaza Theatre, was once known as ‘The Showcase of the Southwest’, is an atmospheric theatre that captures the quality of the desert sky. Built for vaudeville acts, the 2410-seat theatre became an oasis in the middle of the Great Depression. Builders H.T. Ponsford and Sons spared no expense, including paintings and sculptures worth thousands of dollars.
Opportunity The initiative to rehabilitate the Plaza Theatre began as a public/private effort to provide a new home for the local symphony, performing arts organizations, and travelling musical/ theatrical groups. After M+J was selected as head architect in a national search, the project began with the development of a Master Plan. This Master Plan included preparation of programming options; participation in community meetings and user interviews; expansion of backstage areas; improvement of loading facilities; modernization of lighting and sound systems; upgrades to electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems; and restoration of interior finishes. All of these items were considered in reference to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation for the purpose of obtaining Historic Preservation Tax Credits.
creation Martinez+Johnson Architecture executed full service design and documents. M+J expanded the historic theatre’s stage house-renovating it to accommodate full theatrical shows, reconfigured loading operations, and created new performer support spaces. Within the historic building complex, M+J created a second theatre of 250 seats for smaller performances. The renovations and additions to the venue make a stunning permanent home for major performing arts organizations and provide excellent settings for regional emerging arts organizations.