Ford Amphitheatre to close for $7.5-million in renovations

The Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood will close for renovations in October, with a reopening set for May 2013. The renovations -- which are part of a larger, planned overhaul of the 1920 facility -- will include resurfacing to prevent leaks, an improved stage and new seating for the outdoor theater.

The estimated price tag for this first stage of renovations is $7.5 million. Funding is coming from Los Angeles County capital projects funds. The other phases will be presented to the Board of Supervisors in the fall for approval.

As a result of the renovations, [Inside] the Ford, the venue's indoors live theater series, is canceling its 2012-13 season and possibly even the season after. The series presents new plays as well as works by prominent writers in the 87-seat space beneath the amphitheatre.

The Ford is run by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Laura Zucker, executive director of the commission, described the renovations as "a long time coming." She said the total cost of the overhaul isn't known yet and that the commission is finalizing cost estimates.

The renovations starting in October will seek to address rain leakage problems that have plagued the Ford for a number of years. Adam Davis, the Ford's managing director, said that rainwater has leaked through the floor of the amphitheatre, affecting the 87-seat theater below it.

In the last few years, the Ford has used tarps in the winter to prevent rain leakage, he said.

Davis said the performance stage of the amphitheatre is buckling, "so it's not good for dancers to perform on." The renovations also will include improved drainage for the facility and improved lighting and sound. 

The Ford started developing its plan in 2010 with Levin & Associates Architects. Brenda Levin, the lead architect on the project, said that future phases will include a new parking structure, a 299-seat theater to replace the 87-seat space and a restaurant.

She said the Ford is seeking to enhance its visibility from the 101 Freeway and Cahuenga Boulevard, and that the new structures would help to achieve that. 

The timing for future phases of renovations remains unclear, pending county approval and funding. The county arts commission began running the Ford facility in 1993. 

[Inside] the Ford traditionally has presented plays during the fall, winter and spring. The amphitheatre, which has 1,245 seats, presents cultural shows during the summer.

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