The Parker: Top five highlights for this remarkable renovation

November 02, 2021

“The project turned out just great! We have had so many people, random patrons even, tell us how happy they are with what we’ve done with the Parker…(WBA has) so clearly achieved the goals we had in the beginning, capturing its original charm, accenting the heritage, but making it feel fresh and renewed. Of course, for us, all the additional functionality helps so much.”- Kelley Shanley, President & CEO

Principals, Chris Dynia, AIA and Paul Vaivoda, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB are the project architect and project manager respectively behind the amazing transformation of The Parker Playhouse, now rebranded as The Parker.

Here are their top five highlights for this incredible transformation:

What were the top 3 guiding principles for the project?
  • Respect the character and storied spirit that is the Parker Playhouse.
  • Elevate the patron experience; pre, during, and post-performance.
  • Update technical equipment and back-of-house spaces in response to today’s (and tomorrow’s) performance requirements.
How did you manage to honor the heritage and past of The Parker?

The Parker Playhouse has been a part of the Fort Lauderdale arts scene since the curtain first rose almost 55 years ago and often was the first exposure to theatrical arts for youngsters growing up in Fort Lauderdale. Its curvilinear entry façade greeted audience members during this time and great care was given to refurbishing this iconic façade which in turn became a primary feature of the expanded lobby. Additionally, while providing an extensive re-fresh to the existing spaces, cherished decorative treatment of the side lobbies (ceilings) and the auditorium (flanking colonnades) were respected and maintained.

What is your favorite feature of the new Parker?

The expanded lobby. Where previously an entry sequence included simple paired doors to a narrow corridor linking separate side lobbies, there now is a welcoming, central gathering spot with patron services and amenities.

How will the community in Fort Lauderdale benefit from this renovation work?

The benefits to the Fort Lauderdale community are multi-fold. Aside from a new expanded lobby gathering area, additional and convenient restrooms, increased food and beverage options, and updated technical equipment (resulting in the support of new,  innovative performances), The Parker has addressed ADA and accessibility provisions throughout the building.

What has been your proudest moment as a designer during this process?

The proudest and most rewarding moment is to see the faces of those patrons and audience members arriving for the first time and experiencing the transformation of The Parker. It is often a combination of excitement and relief; excited for the new patron experience and to see the show, combined with a sense of relief that The Parker Act II design retained its original, memorable character and atmosphere.