95% of the time, the new Chrysalis Amphitheater in Merriweather Park of Columbia, Maryland is not programmed. Rather than waiting for official events, the design maximizes the potential of the project brief by providing an experience around the clock.
“We want to provide not just a destination, but an experience for the morning jogger, the Sunday walker, the afternoon stroller, as well as anyone who is actually there for a show,” Architecte DPLG Marc Fornes says of the project. “It is an amphitheater, yet it is first a pavilion in the park, an architectural structure, a tree house and a public artwork, ready to be engaged and activated at any given moment.”
What emerged as the major design opportunity of the project was to create an emblematic and experiential design while satisfying the standard box dimensions required by a theater typology. The answer was developed as a collection of cascading arches that vary not only in size but function, and also provide a structural system.
The largest arch frames Stage Alpha, dimensioned and structured for official events, including the performances of musicians and the requirements of their equipment and lighting rigs. Immediately adjacent to the main stage is Stage Beta, a venue for smaller and more community-based events, and which still provides a platform, equipment/lighting rigs and seating area, yet more appropriate for less of a crowd. The engineered terrain ascending to Stage Beta provides an architectural topography on which park visitors can sit, stand and play, and which can be activated itself as a more casual “Speakers Corners” stage set-up.
Status: Built Location: Columbia, MD, US Additional Credits: Designed by: MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY Commissioned by: Inner Arbor Trust Engineer / Theatrical / Lighting: ARUP Architect of Records: Living Design Lab Specialty Fabrication: Zahner Landscape Architect: Mahan Rykiel Associates Civil Engineer: Gutschick, Little & Weber, P.A.