Another Brutalist Wonder Bites the Dust: Johansen’s Mechanic Theatre

Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore (photo: Edward Gunts)

Despite pleas for preservation from some of the nation’s top architects, demolition work has begun on  a nationally significant example of “Brutalist” architecture in north America, the 1967 Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, designed by the late John M. Johansen.

A  yellow backhoe with a spike-like attachment began chipping into the theater’s concrete exterior earlier this month, ending any chance that the building could be saved. One local preservationist was able to salvage the original letters from the  building, but nothing else. Read More

Letter to the Editor> Murmurs for Mummers

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John Johansen’s Mummer’s Theater. (Courtesy Elliott+Associates Architects)

[Editor’s Note: The following are reader-submitted responses to the editorial “Acceptable if not Noble” (AN 03_04.30.2014_SW), which considered the imminent demolition of John Johansen’s Mummer’s Theater in Oklahoma City and the renovation of Ulrich Franzen’s Alley Theatre in Houston. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ]

There were local groups working hard to preserve and repurpose the Mummers Theater and conceptual plans put forth that incorporated the existing theater into a larger cultural and commercial mixed-use complex. My father supported and encouraged these efforts as an important and necessary evolution of this building, and architecture in general, to reinvent itself by adapting and embracing new ideas and technology.

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Glass Tower May Replace Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City

The 16-story tower will serve as the headquarters of OKC-based OGE Energy Corp. (Courtesy adg)

The 16-story tower will serve as the headquarters of OKC-based OGE Energy Corp. (Courtesy ADG)

Fans of John Johansen‘s legendary Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City have yet another reason to shake their heads in amazement. Not only is the idiosyncratic modern masterpiece set for a date with the wrecking ball, there is now a proposal for the building that may replace it.

Kestrel Investments has filed an application with the Oklahoma City Planning Department to demolish Mummers—now known as Stage Center—and put in its place a 14- to 16-story tower that would become the headquarters of OGE Energy Corp. Designed by local architectural practice ADG, the $100 million proposal master plan also includes a second tower of eight-to-12 stories that would be developed separately.

Continue reading after the jump.

Johansen’s Oklahoma City Mummers Theater Will Live on in Memory

Southwest
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
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John Johansen's Mummers Theater was renovated into the Stage Center in the 1990s. (Courtesy Elliott+Associates Architects)

John Johansen’s Mummers Theater was renovated into the Stage Center in the 1990s. (Courtesy Elliott+Associates Architects)

[Editor’s Note: Tracey Zeeck is an Oklahoma native and resident who has been leading the effort to save and preserve John Johansen‘s classic Mummers Theater in that city. She responds here to a letter to the editor in the Oklahoma Gazette. ]

In 2012, armed with good intentions and a passionate group of friends and family, Farooq Karim of REES Associates and I decided to respond to an RFP and save John Johansen’s Oklahoma City masterpiece, Stage Center (Mummers Theater) from the wrecking ball. We would turn this vestige of 1970s brutalism into a children’s museum and light up downtown with joyful sounds of creative play. We had two months to create the plan, submit the RFP and raise $30,000,000. We didn’t make it.

Continue reading after the jump.

Wrecking Ball To Swing On Johansen’s Mummers Theater

Southwest
Friday, July 26, 2013
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Known as Stage Center following a renovation, Johansen’s groundbreaking Mummers Theater is Oklahoma City’s only internationally acclaimed piece of architecture (Courtesy Elliott+ Associates Architects)

Oklahoma City investment company Kestrel Investments has purchased recently deceased architect John Johansen‘s Mummers Theater for $4.275 million and plans to demolish the revolutionary building to construct a 20-plus story mixed use tower in its place. The news came as a blow to local and national preservation groups who worked unsuccessfully to save the groundbreaking architectural work by finding a new tenant and use for the idiosyncratic structure.

Continue reading after the jump.

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