Sunshine Theatre

Client:  Landmark Theatre Corporation
Project Location: New York NY

Sunshine Theatre represents a complete restoration and addition to a century-old theater on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to create a new 5 screen, 27,550 square foot cinema dedicated to first-run independent and foreign films. The original structure, built in 1898, was formerly the Houston Hippodrome motion picture theater and a Yiddish vaudeville house. The theater had been shuttered and prior to the renovation, served as a hardware warehouse.

Sunshine’s design includes a deliberate opposition of style and materials between the old and new structures. The renovation of the old vaudeville theater uses a vocabulary of materiality, weight and solidity. The building shell was carefully preserved. Original design elements and materials were reused. The building’s arched window facade was carefully restored and the brick masonry at the back of the facade was left exposed to the interior views. Timber trusses supporting the roof were left exposed in top-level theaters.

The annex uses a deliberately contemporary architectural language about simplification, dematerialization and transparency. The annex is framed in lightweight steel. Structural elements are left exposed to create an open, loft-like and industrial feeling. From the street, the glass curtain wall facade provides a screen-like effect. From the street, patrons who are inside the annex cast moving shadows against the translucent glass as they move through the lobby area and up and down stairways, as if in their own movie.