Architects: Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee
Location: Rocky Mount, North Carolina, USA
Client: City of Rocky Mount
Project Team: Jeffrey Lee, Irvin Pearce, David Francis, Rob Harkey, Henry Newell
Size: 35,000 SF / 300 seats
Photographs: JWest Productions
The site for the Imperial Centre Theatre is across an abandoned street from the historically significant Imperial Tobacco Company cigarette factory in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. This site, which has been a city park for the past century, was formerly occupied by a public swimming pool. The Imperial Centre Theatre is linked to the larger complex by an enclosed bridge that spans over the abandoned roadway. This bridge is designed to allow the presence of the historically significant street to be understood while minimizing the impact on the character of the original buildings. The structure and plan alignment of the bridge were derived from the existing overhead gantry previously used for transporting coal to the central boilers. The Imperial Centre Theatre seats 300 people in a surprisingly intimate relation to the stage.
Parterres, containing movable seats, flank a central zone of stepped stadium-type seating. Tech balconies align with the upper sides of the theater. The spot booth is located at the rear, above the control room. Two catwalks span the space. The stage has a width of 35 feet and a clear depth of 36 feet with the capacity of 45 line sets. Rigging access is stage left at the arbor pit. Extended wing space is provided stage right. An orchestra pit with capacity for 25-30 musicians fronts the stage. Directly behind the stage is a set workshop and loading dock. A wardrobe shop, star dressing rooms and green room/lounge are located at stage level. Larger dressing rooms are located below the stage. The lobby is located to the side of the theater as opposed to a more traditional entry configuration. This strategy allows for room on the site to create an outdoor terrace as an extension of the lobby. It also provides a readily apparent front facade and clear point of entry. The lobby and access corridor are both partially defined by large transparent curtain wall assemblies. These spaces showcase patron activity and provide visual connections to the outdoors.