The Chrysalis Amphitheater

Columbia, United States / MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY


Curving metal pleats provide more than asked of an amphitheater project brief, by appealing to the 95% of the time the building is not officially programmed. Beyond providing a home for official scheduled performances, The Chrysalis is a pavilion in the park, an architectural folly, a public work of art and a tree house-- ready to be engaged and activated at any given moment.

What emerged as the major design opportunity of the project was to create an emblematic and experiential design while satisfying the standard box dimensions required by a theater typology. The answer was developed as a collection of cascading arches made from three different types of metal sandwiched together. Each arch varies in size and function, and contributes to the structural system. 

To achieve an organic effect that suits the context of a wooded park, the studio took a structurally-oriented approach, building upon over a decade of research and development of lightweight structural shells that unify form, support and experience into a cohesive system. Layered within the self-supporting pleated shell rises an exoskeleton of steel tubing to support the heavy loads for performances inside, such as lights and other rigging. 70 point loads within can each sustain 2,000 lbs.

7,700 digitally designed and fabricated aluminum shingles create the curvlinear exterior shell. Each shingle is painted one of four shades of green that is taken from nature and pushed to the point of artificiality, amounting to a subtle green gradient that renders The Chrysalis an iconic signal at the same time that it is camouflaged into its natural surroundings. In between its aluminum shingles and steel exoskeleton, the project utilized ZEPPS, a patented interface developed by Zahner.

Design : MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY (Marc Fornes, Architect DPLG )
Architect of Record: Living Design Lab
Landscape Architect: Mahan Rykiel Associates 
Engineer / Theatrical / Lighting: ARUP
Specialty Fabrication: Zahner
Civil Engineer: Gutschick, Little & Weber, P.A.
Commission: Inner Arbor Trust

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