On Saturday, Devonshire Park hit a major project milestone with partial possession being achieved for the Grade II* listed Congress Theatre. This came a comfortable 24 hours ahead of the opening concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the first public performance in the theatre for two years and almost 56 years after the inaugural concert by the same orchestra in 1963. The building immediately returns to active service with touring shows already programmed in over the next few months.
Alongside the Congress Theatre’s man auditorium, stage, front of house foyers and back of house dressing rooms, the client has also taken possession of the entrance foyer and main lifts within the new Welcome Building next door, unlocking unhindered level-access to all public floors of the theatre as well as the adjacent Winter Garden and tennis fields to the north. A south-facing public realm plaza completes the picture, tying together the disparate building typologies and resolving the complex access requirements from the southern approach.
Over the next few weeks, the construction team will hand over the sunken conference facilities forming the base of the Welcome Building, along with high level breakout facilities overlooking the tennis fields. In addition, heritage restoration work reviving the adjacent wing of the Winter Garden – the condition of which had severely deteriorated over the years – will be completed.