Gerding Theater at the Armory Case Study

Preservation in Action Award Recipient

Portland Center Stage/Portland Historic Rehabilitation Fund – lessee/leaseholder
Gerding Edlen Development Co.
GBD Architects
John Tess, Heritage Consulting Group
Hoffman Construction – general contractor

Gerding Theater at the ArmoryThe second-largest 19thcentury building in Portland, the Gerding Theater at the Armory was built in 1891, as an annex and drilling ground for the Portland Armory. Over the decades the building served as a public events venue, until it was declared a fire hazard.

It eventually became part of the Brewery Blocks development, but its huge, single-room structure made it ill-suited for redevelopment as retail space. However, it was uniquely suitable for a theater company in search of a permanent home!

In a unique public-private partnership, Portland Center Stage and the Portland Family of Funds launched a $38.7 million project to renovate the Armory into a state-of-the-art performance facility. It features a 600-seat main stage; a 200-seat studio stage; office, costume, and rehearsal space; a gallery and café, open lobby, and bios wale along the northern exterior wall.

In addition to funding the project, there were numerous other problems to solve, including, seismic upgrades; creating 56,000 square feet of space within a 20,000 square foot footprint; and maintaining the old growth Douglas Fir trusses through an extraordinary “ship-in-a-bottle” design.

The Gerding Theater at the Amory has received a LEED Platinum rating and attracts more than 150,000 people annually for all manner of events. The theater hosts numerous delegations of architects and city planners interested in applying the project’s lessons of adaptive reuse in their own communities, and promotes the cause of historic preservation through guided tours, media displays, and lecture series. The project has received numerous awards and is deserving of them all!

More Photos of the Gerding Theater

Click to enlarge the images below.

Armory Historic Image Armory interior historic image
Armory No Roof Detail of Armory Trusses
Armory Scaffolding  Armory Mainstage Construction
Gerding Theater Mainstage  Gerding Theater Lobby
Armory Before Renovation