Work is now well underway on the £11.5 million project to redevelop one of Glasgow’s best-known cultural venues, the Theatre Royal on Hope Street.
First built in 1866, the theatre was partially rebuilt twice during the 19th century, after fires destroyed the auditorium.
In 1957, it was taken over by Scottish Television and turned into TV studios. In 1974, Scottish Opera bought the theatre and restored it, reopening it in 1975. It has been leased to and operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) since 2006.
The investment in the theatre will see a oval extension added to the 144-year-old building, accommodating new bars, a box office, cloakrooms, toilet facilities, hospitality suites and an education suite, while lifts will be installed for the first time. In addition to a new entrance and spacious foyer, the revamped Theatre Royal will offer views across the city with a new roof garden.
Construction will take about 18 months, but the theatre will close only for a three-month period in early 2014.
Glasgow-based architects Page/Park have designed the new public spaces for the theatre. The firm are one of the most distinguished architects in Glasgow, responsible for a series of new buildings, conservation projects and redevelopments.
In a statement, the architects said that its design would be about ‘the journey from the street to the seat’ and that the redevelopment provides a ‘major opportunity to enhance the audience experience’.
Scottish Opera, which has owned the venue since 1974, has raised over 90% of the funding required. Funders include the Scottish government, Creative Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Glasgow City Council, as well as an array of Scottish and UK trusts, foundations and individual donors.
Alex Reedijk, general director of Scottish Opera, said:
“Our vision is to open up the theatre to become a social hub – somewhere people can gather with friends for great coffee during the day, enjoy outstanding performances, learn about the performing arts, and discover the wonderful heritage of this beautiful theatre.”
The project to transform the theatre will be complete by the time Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2014.