Portland Playhouse Renovation and Addition

The Portland Playhouse renovation and addition revitalized a vibrant community hub by illuminating and enhancing behind-the-scenes areas with functionality while integrating sustainable features throughout.

A refreshed space for a community treasure

The Portland Playhouse is a nonprofit that produces culturally diverse, socially relevant productions intended to engage the local community both on stage and through school classrooms.

Project vision: An enhanced community space

This not-for-profit project included a substantial renovation of the current building, the construction of a 1,465-square-foot structure on the premises, and the formulation of design concepts for outdoor areas. The primary objective was to craft a "neighborhood gem" that would enrich both the King neighborhood and the broader theater community.

Beautiful, highly functional space for offices and operations

In the Playhouse's basement, SERA's design brought daylight and openness to the behind-the-curtain spaces, incorporating new offices, dressing rooms, a green room, kitchen, and communal area. On the first floor, the public-facing lobby got a refresh, with existing facilities converted into gender-neutral bathrooms. The team also explored options for a facelift of the west elevation at the public office entry in the basement.

Passive solutions bring light and energy savings

A new, modern outbuilding complements the historic church, providing dedicated rehearsal and community space, along with a production shop for set construction. Here, the design team focused on energy savings and occupant comfort, incorporating low-tech and passive solutions such as skylights that bring in natural light and minimize utilities.

SERA worked with landscape architects Shapiro Didway to design the site's 5,352-square-foot outdoor area, including native landscaping and a new ADA-accessible deck.

This project marked several firsts for SERA. The design incorporated materials not previously used by the firm, such as new bamboo decking and charred wood siding. The Portland Playhouse renovation and addition also represented SERA’s first partnership with COLAS Construction, an MWESB-certified CMGC.

Sticky problems + collaboration = inspired solutions

Housed in a repurposed historic church, the organization’s spatial configuration created programmatic challenges for the users and the space. SERA partnered with the Playhouse to help to identify the programmatic requirements, functional needs, aesthetic preferences, and growth strategies for the organization.