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Bratton Theater - The Chautauqua Institution - Chautauqua, New York
The Bratton Theater received the first Honor Award from the US Institute for Theatre Technology on February 16, 2002, one of only two theaters to receive this prestigious award in the first year it was awarded.
The Bratton Theater received a 2001 Adaptive Re-use/Historic Preservation Citation from the New York City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Jury comments included:
"Of all the adaptive re-use projects we saw, this was the most inventive. The Architect showed a lot of resourcefulness. Projects like this are usually sickly sweet."
The Bratton Theater also received a 2001 Design Award from the Buffalo/WNY Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Chautauqua is an astonishing community founded on ethical ideals early in the 19th century at the time of the nationwide chautauqua movement. To promote ethical debate the Chautauqua Institution has a collection of halls - from little debating halls to a big outdoor amphitheater - of every type and description, and every one of them is handsome. We guess there are more seats of assembly space per-capita here than anywhere else in the world. This building was built in 1885 as a normal school. In the year 2000 it was renovated again, expanded, and re-opened as the Bratton Theater.
The original structure has a lovely laminated wood arch roof. The horizontal iron tie rods were added a few years after the roof was built to keep the wood arches from flexing outward. The ties are needed to resist Chautauqua's exceptionally heavy snow loads. Modern computer structural analysis confirmed that the original carpenters were skillful enough to locate the tie rods within a few inches of the ideal location.
The current renovation and addition provide new seating for an audience of 270, compliance with the ADA, an expanded stage, new sound systems, new mechanical and electrical systems, new dressing rooms, new public facilities, and new stage equipment. The building is closed during the winter, open for general use in the spring and fall "shoulder" seasons, and is used during the summer by a professional theater performance and conservatory training program.
This renovation is a successful example of coordination, integration, and restraint in service of a valuable historic structure in a landmark district.
Architect: Mitchell Kurtz Architect PC - New York, New York