Hutchinson Builders Complete $24.5m Restoration of Iconic Capitol Theatre


After five years of closure, RMIT’s Capitol Theatre reopened this Monday following a $24.5 million restoration.

Hutchinson Builders worked with architecture firm Six Degrees to restore the cultural icon to its former glory, which included the refurbishment of the foyer areas and redeveloping a fly tower behind the stage. The cinema’s iconic geometric ceiling was also retained, with 4,000 concealed lamps highlighting the complexity of the original design.

First opened in 1924, the Capitol Theatre was designed by husband and wife team Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin. The Griffins are most well known for working together on Burley Griffin’s proposal for the design of Australia’s new capital city, Canberra, a competition which he would win in 1912.

Speaking on the restoration works, Six Degrees Director Peter Malatt said the project integrates 21st-century technology with 20th-century design principles.

“All the ceilings and critical heritage elements are overhead, and all the new work comes up underneath,” he said. “The new almost grows out of the ground.”

capitol-theatre-refurbishment
Image source: Igor Hill via Architecture AU

Malatt also noted that much of the work within the Capitol was to ensure the building was compliant with modern building codes and regulations.

“80% of the work you really can’t see, there’s a huge amount of stuff behind the walls,” he said.

Related: Westfield Doncaster Set to Receive $500m Revamp

The newly opened theatre will become an educational hub for RMIT, hosting workshops and presentations along with opportunities for industry-based learning.

Hutchinson also delivered restorative works to St Kilda’s Palais Theatre in 2017.

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