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of the 540-seat theater are accessible in all sections.

New Theater and Lobby Renovation

01 Challenge

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park enlisted BHDP to design a new theater to replace its 50-year outmoded Marx Theatre. Selected for our well-executed designs on other civic projects like Washington Park and Fountain Square, BHDP assembled an integrated team of designers and project leaders to deliver creative design solutions that focused on delivering an inspiring patron experience. 

02 Solution

To avoid losing a show season for the Marx Theatre, BHDP redirected the new theater to a more north-facing position with an improved view of Eden Park’s Mirror Lake and the Cincinnati Art Museum. The Mainstage Theatre Complex—featuring The Rouse Theatre—allows Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park to shine on a national level with state-of-the-art technology, a fly gallery, and greater accessibility and comfort. 

Early sketch of the new Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park lobby

Quick Facts

Size 62,500 SF

Location Cincinnati, OH

Completion Date 2023

The beautiful new venue continues to make Playhouse in the Park an entertaining Cincinnati institution.

James, Playhouse Guest
People gathering in the lobby at Playhouse in the Park

A Grand Entrance

The design features a two-story glass lobby that promotes transparency by blurring the lines between the outside and inside environments which provides patrons with captivating views of adjacent park context. The organic design, driven by its unique location and relationship with the nature surrounding the site, encouraged BHDP to incorporate curved elements throughout the lobby and main entrance which reflect the unique topographic lines of the site. The curves soften the canyon effect of the lobby and provide creative opportunities for unique graphics to honor donors and the rich history of the company.

People gathering in the new theater at Playhouse in the Park before a show

Park in the Playhouse

Smaller design features create unique opportunities for discovery from the moment of arrival. There’s beauty in the finer details—like the leaf pattern etched into the glass that prevents bird strikes, the brick on the building that resembles the texture of tree bark, and the wood-faced theater balconies that reinforce “Park in the Playhouse.”

People practicing in the rehearsal space at Playhouse in the Park

Unique Topography

Located in Eden Park, the challenging site involved steep drop-offs on hillsides at the edge of the historic Mount Adams neighborhood. To minimize the impact on the park’s existing trees and to preserve a 150-year-old signature American Elm, the team redirected the theatre’s footprint to a more north-facing position with an improved view of Eden Park and the Cincinnati Art Museum. By leveraging the topography, the final solution allows backstage spaces, including two rehearsal studios, a costume shop, and green rooms, which were previously buried underground, to have a direct and visual connection with the park.