The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods today announced that the Robinson Theater has been recognized as the Best Renovation by a Non-Profit as one of the seven special Golden Hammer Award Honorees for 2009:
In the heart of north Church Hill, the Robinson Theater has a rich history– beginning when it was built in 1937 as a version of Art Deco Moderne architecture. Designed by Richmond architect Edward F. Sinnott, the Robinson became the center of community activity; and the U.S. Department of the Interior listed it as “the final icon of the transformation of this section of Church Hill into a middle class African-American neighborhood.” It was named for Bill “Bojangles” Robinson– a Richmond native who became a star on Broadway and in movies and is considered by many still to be the “World’s Greatest Tap Dancer.” The theater showed films and presented live entertainment, including talent shows until it closed in the mid 1980s and fell into disrepair. The Robinson Theater Community Arts Center is honored for the careful restoration that brought the Robinson Theater back as a venue for entertainment, education, and fun for the community and for Richmond.
The other 6 honorees are:
Preservation Advocacy Award: Charles Diradour
Charles Diradour is being honored for spearheading the successful campaign to save The Diamond on the Boulevard. He may not have realized it when he began, but The Diamond is far more than a venue for baseball to many people. It is an important part of and an icon for both nearby Northside neighborhoods and the entire city. His company, Lion’s Paw Development, was a Golden Hammer Award nominee for the deLux Diner & Lounge in the “Best Commercial Renovation” category in 2008; but Charles is a developer who sees beyond construction and projects. He knows the importance of people in the equation for building a truly extraordinary city.
Edmund A. Rennolds, Jr. Excellence in Architecture Award: Virginia Center for Architecture
In 2003 the Virginia Center for Architecture Foundation purchased the landmark Tudor-Revival mansion designed by John Russell Pope, one of America’s major architects. The new museum on Monument Avenue serves the Commonwealth and expands the Foundation’s ability to provide exhibitions and programs to educate and entertain Virginians and visitors– expanding it from its beginnings as a scholarship fund to a public cultural institution. Along with its stewardship of a Richmond historic landmark, the Virginia Center for Architecture is honored for its proactive work of educating the public about the importance and impact of architecture through exhibitions, programs, publications.
Neighborhood Conservator Award: Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity
Richmond’s Habitat for Humanity is honored for its expanding emphasis on quality design and mixed-income sustainable communities. Habitat joins with Richmond area residents, local government, businesses, faith groups, schools, associations, and individual volunteers and donors to build decent, modest homes that families can afford to buy with the zero-percent interest mortgages they provide. They have completed projects in Highland Park, Manchester, and other older neighborhoods in the city. An exciting new planned development– Pillars at Oakmont– at T and 33rd streets in Church Hill will offer “a natural intersection of income earners to reflect the diverse population that lives in this walkable urban community.”
Andrew Asch Historic Developer Award: David Gammino ~ City & Guilds Building
David Gammino came to Richmond in 1989 to attend T.C. Williams School of Law and moved into the Oregon Hill community, where he soon became involved in renovation and historically sensitive construction. City & Guilds is a general contracting and development firm that partners with developers and clients who share the vision of a vibrant urban core. It was created to pursue Gammino’s passion for historic restoration done purposefully and properly on a larger scale. Beginning in 2005, City & Guilds has worked across the city of Richmond on a wide variety of projects, including both adaptive re-use and new residential construction, with a focus on historic tax-credit-based commercial and multi-family projects.
Marguerite Crumley Preservation Award: The Honorable Ellen Robertson
City Council member, Ellen Robertson, represents the Sixth District– which includes “the valley where Richmond began.” She has enthusiastically championed its significance and the importance (and benefits) of educating others about the history contained on and under its streets. Thanks to her forward thinking, funding was allocated to study options and impacts regarding the future of Shockoe Bottom so that we will have the opportunity to make the best decisions about how to develop this singular Richmond neighborhood for ourselves and for future generations.
Special Recognition: Movieland at Boulevard Square ~ Bow-Tie Cinemas
Bow-Tie Cinemas has made a creative and stunningly successful impact on The Boulevard by renovating the old 19th-century locomotive building for a new life in the 21st century and bringing first-run movies back to the heart of the city. This unique example of adaptive re-use is now a 17-theater cinema complex, with comfortable seating, plenty of free parking, meeting and event space, and a cafe. This project illustrates beautifully the concept of providing what a city’s inhabitants want while honoring the city’s history and architectural heritage.