Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theater

Baltimore, Maryland

An Adaptive Reuse Transforms a Historic Bank

A creative adaptive reuse of the historic Mercantile Trust and Deposit Co. building in downtown Baltimore transformed the 19th-century structure into a popular venue for the performing arts. Mueller Associates designed upgrades to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems for the new 260-seat Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theater, which is designed as a theater-in-the-round.

Many of the historic details within the circa-1885 Romanesque Revival-style building were retained and restored, adding to the drama of the intimate theater setting. The removal of dropped ceilings revealed the original painted, coffered ceilings. The grand, three-story columns and vault doors remain, and a vintage teller’s window frames the box office. Mueller’s designs optimized the existing HVAC system through extensive repairs and selective replacement of equipment. Working within the confined space and around the columns, beams, ornate ceilings, and new lighting, the team configured the systems efficiently while minimizing impact to historic elements and theater operations.

Architect

Cho Benn Holback + Associates

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  • The team crafted a modern ‘vertical theater’ reminiscent of the historic Globe Theater in England. The addition of a double balcony into the historic Mercantile Bank building was a major challenge with floor heights and clearances. Mueller’s work to knit all of the new HVAC systems and theatrical lighting within the three levels of raked seating was key in getting the scale and intimacy of the space right. We were very pleased to have Mueller Associates on our team.

    George Holback, AIA, LEED AP
    Principal, Cho, Benn, Holback + Associates
  • We replaced all of the ductwork due to the reconfiguration of the space. We knew going in that it would be difficult to place the large ducts into the tight spaces and work around the columns and lighting, but it all came together and we met the budget. We were careful to consider the acoustics and attenuate the noise. It’s impressive to see how it all came together.

    Tom Syvertsen, PE, LEED AP
    Associate, Mueller Associates
  • …the jury is impressed with how this space works well for this new use.

    AIABaltimore Design Awards Jury
  • The team crafted a modern ‘vertical theater’ reminiscent of the historic Globe Theater in England. The addition of a double balcony into the historic Mercantile Bank building was a major challenge with floor heights and clearances. Mueller’s work to knit all of the new HVAC systems and theatrical lighting within the three levels of raked seating was key in getting the scale and intimacy of the space right. We were very pleased to have Mueller Associates on our team.

    George Holback, AIA, LEED AP
    Principal, Cho, Benn, Holback + Associates
  • We replaced all of the ductwork due to the reconfiguration of the space. We knew going in that it would be difficult to place the large ducts into the tight spaces and work around the columns and lighting, but it all came together and we met the budget. We were careful to consider the acoustics and attenuate the noise. It’s impressive to see how it all came together.

    Tom Syvertsen, PE, LEED AP
    Associate, Mueller Associates
  • …the jury is impressed with how this space works well for this new use.

    AIABaltimore Design Awards Jury