Amid a park in the Baltimore suburbs lies a new outdoor theater by MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY that’s as green as the new leaf.
The New York design studio’s Chrysalis Amphitheater, a sinuous shingled pavilion whose form follows its name, features two stages for semi-outdoor performances and events. Stage A, the larger of the two, is equipped for larger performances and is kitted out for musical equipment and lighting rigs. Stage B, with its platform stage and steps that double as seating, is meant for smaller events. Other arches double as apertures for a staircase, balconies with city views, and a loading dock.
The project broke ground in Columbia, Maryland’s Symphony Woods Park in October 2015. Commissioned by park stewards Inner Arbor Trust, its shape references the curvy roots of the Swamp Cypress, a native tree.
To achieve its curvature without adding too much weight the structure, Fornes, in collaboration with engineers at Arup, drew a flat digital mesh and transformed its segments into differentiated spring systems. Constraints for pleating were added to the system during inflation to give the structure extra depth, while ARUP engineered a steel-tubed exoskeleton and created 70-point loads that can each hold up to 2,000 pounds. Zahner fabricated the Chrysalis’s 7,700 shingles, which are painted four different shades of electric green.
Living Design Lab worked with THEVERYMANY as the architect of record, while Mahan Rykiel Associates designed the landscape. (Courtesy Zahner)
“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,” said Marc Fornes, principal of THEVERYMANY, in a prepared statement. “It is an amphitheater, yet it is first a pavilion in the park, an architectural folly, a tree house and a public artwork, ready to be engaged and activated at any given moment.”
THEVERYMANY first developed its idea with a similar, but smaller, installation in France. That project, Pleated Inflation, was installed at a school in Argeles, near the border with Spain.
The pavilion was designed by THEVERYMANY, engineered by Arup, and fabricated by Zahner. It is 64 high and 82 feet in diameter. (Courtesy Zahner)