Feature Illustration (above): Courtesy of Gensler.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — The Planning Commission will get a look at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s new Stages Repertory Theatre on Thursday when the project’s land surveyor, C.L. Davis & Company appears for a variance request.
Stages Theatre is moving south one block across D’Amico Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Forny Construction broke ground on the project May 2018.
Google Earth view of the project site.
The request pending at the March 28 session is to reduce the building line from the required 10 feet to zero for an addition to an existing building and a four-level parking garage that would line up with the addition from the required 10 feet to zero. The reduction affects several single family townhomes and Leonidas Street–a dead-end residential half-block-length stub street located on the back side of the project site.
Forny and the architect, Gensler, are working in a very tight space and they will need every inch they can get to build the theater addition and garage at the proposed scale. Traffic into and out of the garage will be on D’Amico Street at the same point roughly where an existing curb cut used to provide access to a surface parking lot.
In the variance request summary, C.L. Davis states, “The loss of area associated with the building line at the end of Leonidas Street would make the proposed development infeasible due to the restricted dimensions. As indicated in the site plan and renderings attached, the program space has been optimized to fit the program. The proposed building is currently under construction as the building line setback variance was previously approved.”
Courtesy of Gensler.
There is a second variance request that asks commissioners to waive a requirement to extend Leonidas to Rosine Street or convert the stub into a cul-de-sac. Extending Leonidas would kill the garage component of the project outright. C.L. Davis claims, “The extension of the street is not required to meet the intersection spacing requirements.”
The new Stages Theatre is named Stages at the Gordy. The pedestrian approach will be from Rosine Street. Gensler has designed the entrance to include a spacious green lawn.
The two-story, three-theater complex has an area of 66,825 square feet and comes with a cost of $30.5 million. Two of the stages will seat 253 and 227 spectators, respectively, and the third is a flex space.
Campus site plan of the ground floor for Stages at the Gordy. Courtesy: Gensler.
Other features described in the site plans include a ground floor lobby, warehouse theatre, dressing rooms, costume shop, prop shop, scene shop, meeting rooms, rehearsal rooms, open work space, and an upstairs reception area and balcony.
The majority portion of Stages at the Gordy involves the renovation to an existing warehouse acquired from MFAH.
Overhead perspective of the campus. Courtesy: Gensler.
Stages at the Gordy is one of four projects the MFAH embarked upon in the past four years. Construction was completed on the Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation last October. In May, the Glassell School of Art Building was inaugurated. The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is still under construction and should open in 2020.
Banners on the perimeter fence of the construction site. Image: Google Streets/October 2018.