05/30/05 — Committee picks Paramount architect

View Archive

Committee picks Paramount architect

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 30, 2005 1:47 PM

The Paramount Theater Committee has selected an architectural firm to lead the reconstruction of the downtown theater.

The committee voted unanimously Friday to offer the job to Pearce Brinkley Cease and Lee. Members will invite the Raleigh firm back next week to finalize the agreement, and to discuss fees for the project.

Committee members cited Pearce Brinkley Cease and Lee's experience with nearby performance venues as the deciding factor.

"If we want to check out their work, we only have to drive 60 miles or so," Chairman Chuck Allen said.

The firm was responsible for the renovation and lobby expansion of Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium in 1990. Then, in 1996, it designed the additions of the 1,700-seat Meymandi Hall and 600-seat Fletcher Opera Theater. Those projects won state and national architectural honors.

The firm also designed Fayetteville's Festival Park, which includes an outdoor, multi-use performance space.

Seven firms expressed interest in the Paramount reconstruction. Three were interviewed this month.

Several committee members were impressed with Friday's presentation by Drew Dalton of Dunn and Dalton Architects of Kinston. They felt Dalton, a Goldsboro resident, would bring passion to the work.

"His heart would certainly be in it. I don't know how you measure that as a factor," Henry Weil said.

But ultimately committee members said they could not ignore the Raleigh firm's more extensive experience with theaters.

The other finalist was Lord Aeck and Sargant Inc. of Chapel Hill.

The committee did not discuss fees with the architects. That remains to be negotiated and probably will be a percentage of the project's total cost.

Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman suggested that might cause the design team to put together a more expensive project than the city envisions.

But Grim Hobbs, a Goldsboro architect who recently joined the committee, said that most firms would not do so.

"The architect's interest is in having a successful project. It's this committee's job to control the scope of the work," Hobbs said.

Brenda Baldwin, representing StageStruck, added that the city probably cannot afford to have "top-of-the-line" lights, rigging and sound system, which might be beyond the capabilities of the groups using the new Paramount. It's important to strike a balance, she said.

The committee expects Pearce Brinkley Cease and Lee to develop a master plan that would determine, among other things, whether the front facade of the original theater will be preserved.

The plan also could call for the city to acquire additional land, including Phoenix Construction, which was also damaged by the Paramount's fire in February.