Round House Theatre, located in Bethesda, MD, reopened after an impressive 8-month, $9 million renovation. McLaren Engineering Group worked alongside the design team to revamp nearly every aspect of the existing venue to maximize allowable program space and improve the overall audience experience.
This community staple was transformed into an intimate and inclusive performance venue, to continue its trajectory as a space to captivate audiences with stories that inspire and demand conversation. The front of house theatre renovation creates an enhanced, cohesive experience for guests that can be felt from ticket pick-up at the reconfigured box office space to post-performance conversations at the lobby bar. Lobby modifications also included the extension of the existing second floor lobby floor plate to include two new cantilevered balcony elements that mimic the apsidal shape of the stage…making Round House Theatre Round again.
From the initial concept to the unveiling of the final renovated space, McLaren provided its in-depth knowledge of stage and theatre infrastructure to completely transform the Round House performance venue. Within the shell of the existing theatre, the design team was able to reconfigure architectural elements to maximize the audience experience while minimizing disruption to the existing structure.
To provide the utmost flexibility to the theatre and its designers, updates to stage structure were engineered to accommodate a new portable stage decking system, allowing for multiple stage configurations and elevations. The orchestra level slab was modified to reconfigure the seating to mirror the shape of the new stage apron. The new apsidal thrust stage and seating configuration allows audience members to be approximately 5-feet closer to the action than previously, helping to foster a more intimate connection between audience members and actors.
Most notably, the existing structural steel framed balcony was modified to accommodate the extension of existing cantilevered beams a maximum of 12 feet to bring the second level of seating closer to the stage. The design of the balcony was done to accommodate stringent deflection and vibration criteria.
McLaren also designed new mechanical dunnage and modification of an existing mechanical screen wall on the roof, engineered the addition of new egress pathway through existing masonry bearing wall and a new steel feature stair was added to tie the extension of the second-floor lobby to the bar space below.
McLaren provided value engineering of design elements, accommodated a short window for project construction and adapted the structural design in order to account for unanticipated field conditions.