Award of Merit: Historic Category
Renovation of Baltimore's Historic Hippodrome Theater
Submitted by Structural Preservation Systems, Inc.
Maryland Stadium Authority
Pocomoke City, Maryland
Lyndhurst, New Jersey
Built as a vaudeville house around 1914, the Hippodrome is one of the last historic Thomas Lamb theaters in existence. Closed since 1981, the Hippodrome was slated for a renovation that would make it a 2200-seat performing arts complex, transforming it into the city’s prime venue for Broadway shows. Improving a historic structure, however, presents unique challenges. More than needing a “sprucing up”, the theater had to meet the needs of the patrons and the considerably more stringent structural and safety requirements of today.
Investigation of the structure revealed that while the structural steel was in good condition, the huge concrete balcony was in need of extensive repair. Additionally, the structural restoration had to allow for the installation of vent openings at any location without affecting the system’s structural capacity. To do so, a means of upgrading the treads was developed so that they would assume all the design loads, including the dead weight of risers.
The balcony also needed additional reinforcement to the risers to prevent cracking. To accomplish this, an innovative steel reinforced polymer, which was the first commercial use of the product in the U.S., was utilized. This new technology reduced costs, saved valuable time, and provided the advantage of the high-shear strength of a composite system.
This project, completed in only 6 weeks, demonstrates how specialized concrete technology can not only overcome difficult challenges, but can also be key in translating design into reality and, in this case, restoring Baltimore’s prominent landmark to its original beauty.