The Dundee's layout

The Dundee Theater is getting a multimillion-dollar renovation. Here's what's going inside. By Micah Mertes

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dundee: the sequel

Film Streams hopes to renovate and reopen the Dundee Theater by the end of 2017.
Here's what it will look like, and here's what it could mean for Omaha. Read more

'Downsizing' at Dundee

Alexander Payne and Film Streams are hoping that the timing will work out to play Payne's next movie, "Downsizing," at the opening of the Dundee Theater. Read more

The new Dundee Theater was designed by the Omaha architecture firm Alley Poyner Macchietto based on specifications of Film Streams.
“Going on the advice of architects and engineers, we basically need to redo everything,” said Rachel Jacobson, Film Streams executive director. “Fortunately we’re in a situation where we can do so. We’re going to make a building that works. It’s not going to be patched.”
Megan Lutz, Alley Poyner Macchietto architect and the Dundee Theater project manager, said the renovations will balance respect for the history of the building with what audiences have come to expect from a modern movie theater.
“We do a lot of old building renovations and restorations in this office,” Lutz said, “and this one is squeezing a lot into a small space, and it’s going to work really well. They’re going to get a critical mass of activity in there that just feeds off of itself.”
The goal for Alley Poyner Macchietto and Film Streams was to stay true to the building, Lutz said, while also maximizing its potential.
Here’s what you’ll see in (and around) the new Dundee:

The marquee

The Dundee will get a new sign quite similar to the very old one, a classic vertical sign spelling “DUNDEE.” The sign’s design was inspired by photos of the theater front from 1925 and 1941.

Dodge Street entrance

There will be a Dodge Street entrance into the lobby, but most of the doors will be removed, with a wall of windows going up along the front of the building, allowing natural light into the lobby and cafe area.
“It’s cleaning up the facade and putting transparency back onto Dodge Street,” Lutz said.
A new main entrance will be installed on the north side of the theater. An additional exit will be put in near the southeast corner of the building.

Main entrance

The theater’s north entrance will open onto a landscaped patio. “There’s potential,” Jacobson said, “for this to be like a little community park, where people feel like they can go and have their coffee in the morning. Everybody’s welcome there.”

The promenade

Upon walking into the north entrance, moviegoers will see the box office/ticketing counter on the right and the bookstore on the left. A little farther up on the left will be the concessions stand.

The bookstore

The small film-centric bookshop will offer an ongoing curated display from the Criterion Collection and will sell books from Jackson Street Books and possibly records affiliated with the films being played.

The micro-cinema

The 25-seat theater will be used as a classroom, to host art installations and to cater to moviegoers with specialized tastes. If the Dundee were to play, say, a four-hour black-and-white philosophical Hungarian drama set in the 19th century, this is where such a film would most likely screen.

The lobby

The lobby will be relatively close to the original, with terra cotta floors and the original moldings. “The theater has a really long history,” Lutz said. “But it’s been renovated a number of times, which gives it a little bit more freedom for us to adapt it while also respecting its history.”
Interior colors remain to be determined, but Lutz said it will be a scheme that complements all the components of the Dundee.

The big theater

The auditorium will have 300 seats or more and a layout similar to previous versions, though all seats will be replaced and reinstalled differently to allow for better sightlines and more comfort. (The seats are pretty close together at the moment.)
“We’re trying to do a good job of modernizing it so that it’s a real contemporary movie theater experience,” Jacobson said.

The restaurant

The bar and restaurant will be a Film Streams tenant. The eatery, not yet announced, will be a satellite spot of an Omaha restaurant. The lobby and restaurant will bleed into each other, and moviegoers will be welcome to sit in the dining area without ordering food.
“The idea behind the shared lobby space,” Film Streams deputy director Casey Logan said, “is that people don’t feel like they’re walking through a restaurant to get to the micro-cinema. There will be a continuity there so that the lobby can be a place where people wait for a film to start, gather to talk after a show, grab a bite to eat, etc.”

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