The Café at the Creative Alliance is the last piece of a 10-year redevelopment of the former Patterson Theater into an urban arts center and community anchor. Budget constraints and the challenge of actually fitting a commercial kitchen, bar and dining room into the remaining 1,300 sqf had delayed the build-out of the space for almost a decade and a successful design relied on formal restraint and an opportunistic attitude to all possibilities.
The spatial organization is based on the dining area formally coinciding with the concrete projection room suspended above the main level of the original theater (from an era of flammable celluloid film). The found surfaces, board-cast concrete resting on steel beams of the ceiling and the blackened brick interior of the building facade, provided rich natural materiality. The logic for new materials pursued a complementary materiality and a thematic connection to an essential Baltimore palette.
The bar is clad in hot-rolled steel plate reflecting the existing structural steel and blackened brick. Its white marble top illuminates its patrons and recalls the city’s marble stoops. The end walls, which conceal the kitchen and form the main entry, are clad in reclaimed floor joist from neighboring row houses. The new Café accommodates exhibits, performances, and a mural showcasing the talent of local artists.