Orpheum Theatre

Project Management

Project Type:
Theatre Expansion and Renovation

Phoenix, Arizona

70,000 SF, 1,350 seats

The Orpheum Theatre opened its doors in 1929 and is the only theatre in the greater Phoenix area on the National Register of Historic Places. After re-opening it was updated to 1,062 seats at the orchestra level and 302 seats in the balcony along with an expanded lobby to serve patrons and new fly tower to accommodate Off-Broadway productions.

As project director, Rick Pfannenstiel led and managed the collective Project Team on behalf of the City of Phoenix and worked with the Orpheum Theatre Foundation. As the advocate for the Owner, Rick strategically and creatively managed the project to meet on-going funding challenges and subsequent sequencing changes while maintaining the artistic and historic integrity of the project. Acoustics and lighting presented unique challenges, which were successfully resolved. Rick developed and nurtured synergetic relationships with all the stakeholders and guided the team to see creative solutions to the multiple restrictions.

Challenges Met

The building was in poor shape physically and presented environmental challenges including lead-based paint, termites, asbestos and the discovery of a full oil tank under the foundation. The historic status presented its own set of requirements which included preserving the domed ceiling and sidewalls. The acoustics and technical requirements for a multi-purpose performance venue also needed to be met so that the building could function as envisioned. These requirements often were in conflict. Working collaboratively the Project Team found creative solutions to the acoustics and lighting requirements that allowed the Theatre to function effectively without compromising its historic beauty.