5th Avenue Theater

Seattle, WA

The 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle has long been a cultural landmark, known for its unique personality and architectural style. Originally designed in a traditional Chinese style, the theater’s distinct features included ornate brackets on the ceiling. However, a significant event in the theater’s history occurred when an earthquake struck, causing damage that required extensive repair. Several brackets on the ceiling, each weighing over 60 lbs, fell during the earthquake, crushing the seats below. After the 2001 earthquake, EverGreene began work on the theater to fix the damage done and maintain the theater’s structural and artistic integrity.

Following the earthquake, the theater’s repair and restoration became a project under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). EverGreene Architectural Arts was enlisted to head the restoration efforts, focusing on several key aspects to ensure the theater’s safety and aesthetic. One of the primary tasks was the removal of the remaining brackets and the repair of the ceiling and walls. EverGreene then embarked on the challenging task of restoring the brackets – an aspect integral to the originality and style of the theater. Through thorough testing and experimentation, EverGreene developed a new method for creating the brackets that reduced their weight to roughly 1/10 of their original weight, from 60 lbs to 6 lbs each. The new brackets were crafted out of foam, hard-coated, and then the foam was dissolved, leaving only the lightweight hard coating.

This innovative approach not only restored the brackets but also ensured the safety of theatergoers by reducing the risk of damage from future falling brackets. In addition to addressing aesthetic concerns, EverGreene also tackled structural concerns. Using a borescope, the team identified hidden voids, blind cleavage, and unseen plaster delamination. To address these concerns, they used non-expanding adhesive foam to fill the voids and stabilize the plaster, ensuring the most advanced structural integrity of the theater while simultaneously returning it to its original form. After structural repairs were completed, the entire theater was cleaned and the remaining damaged plaster was touched up.

Through this project, we were able to restore the 5th Avenue Theater to its pre-earthquake beauty, while also ensuring its safety and longevity.