The proposal, which Wheeler will present next week to the city's Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment, calls for a glittering, multicolored hotel tower and events space to rise on a surface lot behind the theater, with a facade facing Sansom Street.
Instead of viewing it as a hard-luck case that needs to be rescued, Wheeler saw the exuberantly decorated Boyd playing the role of glamorous anchor in a major mixed-use development. Narrow, neglected Sansom Street, which the city has senselessly tried to downgrade to an alley for parking cars, would be recast as a quiet, elegant back street lined with cafe tables.
...What makes it all work is the ingenious design and site plan by Wheeler's architect, Gary Martinez of Martinez + Johnson Architects in Washington. His assignment was to integrate the tower into the Boyd to create a synergy between the hotel spaces and the theatrical ones. But he was obviously keen to telegraph the interior glamour of the old movie palace onto the skyline.
The task was made more challenging by a Rubik's cube of a site, an L-shaped parcel with narrow frontages on Sansom and 20th Streets. Martinez puts the hotel on Sansom Street, wedging it into an open lot between the theater's backstage wall and the Kate's Place apartments. That siting establishes a new continuity on Sansom that should help make it a real street again, while tying the building directly into the theater.