The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts

The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts

Location Hartford, CT

Category Cultural

Landmark Facade and Roof Rehabilitation

Hartford’s principal center for the performing arts, the Bushnell was designed by Corbett, Harrison, and MacMurray, the same architects who created the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York. The landmark building, completed in 1930 in the Georgian Revival style, features brick exterior walls with bands of ornamental limestone and a granite base. Curved and circular windows punctuate the exterior of William H. Mortensen Hall, the Art Deco main hall emblazoned with images of the sun, moon, and stars. At the east and west theater entrances, columned porticos are topped with decorative tympanums and pediments, and marquees project from the east, west, and south facades.

Although well-constructed and well-maintained, the building exterior was beginning to exhibit symptoms of distress, including failed mortar and sealant, efflorescence, displaced pavers, water infiltration, cracks and open penetrations, deterioration of stairs and steel windows, and deterioration and movement of the concrete roof deck beneath the building’s copper roofing.

Hoffmann Architects + Engineers conducted a a building exterior condition survey, including exploratory openings to view concealed areas within masonry walls, copper roofing, and brick entrance walkways. Based on these findings, Hoffmann recommended an exterior rehabilitation program, prioritizing repairs necessary to assure the health and safety of the public, as well as correct leaks and resulting damage. Subsequent phases of the work would address building enclosure integrity and support a continued long life for the landmark theater.

Hoffmann developed a prioritized program of repairs, phased to maximize the impact of the available budget. The first phase tackled urgent concerns, including structural reinforcement of concrete roof planks, rehabilitation of leaking batten-seam copper roofing and gutters, walkway restoration, and bird intrusion control. Four subsequent phases addressed major building enclosure elements, beginning with the primary entrance plaza on Capitol Avenue and continuing with masonry and cupola copper roof repairs, rehabilitation of the Trinity Street entrance plaza, limestone and granite repairs, and restoration of windows, doors, ornamental metal, and entrance marquees.

As Connecticut’s largest arts organization and premier performing arts venue, as well as a treasured architectural landmark, the Bushnell holds an important place in the state’s cultural legacy. Through the efforts of the comprehensive rehabilitation program conceived and administered by Hoffmann, the heritage of this vibrant Hartford institution has been preserved, with future generations of theater-goers assured continued enjoyment of the arts in their community.