The Lobby Buildout Has Begun at Artists Repertory Theatre’s Downtown Portland Home

The lobby will function as a temporary production space while work is underway on two theaters.

4410_News_Artists-Repertory-Theater_M.O.-Stevens Artists Repertory Theatre (M.O. Stevens/Wikipedia)

Artists Repertory Theatre is one step closer to moving back into its long-vacant, signature red building.

On April 17, the company announced that phase two of construction is underway on the structure, located right along the MAX line at 1515 SW Morrison St. Artists Rep moved out of its home base during the summer of 2019 once it had become functionally obsolete, selling half of the former Elks lodge health club while raising funds to remodel the rest of the space for its productions.

Initial work included architectural design, demolition, utility relocation and seismic upgrades. Now that those projects are complete, the buildout of the lobby is underway. Crews are also completing the exterior, literally raising the roof to give productions an area with higher clearance, and finishing up the seismic modifications. When all of that is done, the lobby will function as a temporary performance space, seating approximately 150 patrons.

Artists Repertory Theatre Image courtesy of Artists Repertory Theatre.

Eventually, Artists Rep will construct two actual theaters: a main stage with room for 178 attendees and a studio with 99 seats. And anyone who’s struggled to find a spot to park their car before a show at the company’s Morrison Street location will be relieved to learn that there are also plans for a two-floor underground garage that connects to the lobby by elevator.

“Throughout its history, ART has produced groundbreaking works that have shaped the theatrical landscape,” executive director J.S. May said in a statement. “It is long overdue for our theatrical home to mirror this level of quality, providing our audience with good sightlines and comfortable seats, accessible entrances and bathrooms, and heating and air conditioning that works.”

Even though Artists Rep has been without a theater to call its own for nearly four years now, the company has been anything but dormant. It started the 2019-20 season on the road—performing at venues throughout the city, from the Portland Opera headquarters on the inner eastside to the Tiffany Center in the heart of downtown. Of course, COVID cut that short, but once plays returned to stages, Artists Rep has done many of its productions at Portland Center Stage at the Armory.

Artists Repertory Theatre Image courtesy of Artists Repertory Theatre.

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