Capitol Theatre transformed

By Sarah Bartlett

RMIT University’s iconic 1920s-era theatre has been transformed into a cultural and educational hub, which sees a valuable cultural asset delivered back to the community. 

The 580-seat historic theatre at 113 Swanston St was officially reopened in early June by the minister for training and skills Gayle Tierney following five years of restoration works. 

Mr Tierney said that the Capitol would be an asset for both the CBD community as well as for RMIT and its students. 

The state government contributed $2.5 million for the $24.5 million restoration project, which was completed by Hutchinson Builders and Six Degrees Architects. 

The Capitol Theatre was originally constructed in 1921 and is the largest municipal work to be constructed by theinternationally-renowned American architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin. 

Its design is an early example of art deco architecture, and its unique features include a ceiling designed to be reminiscent of a crystalline cave with a geometric ceiling that cloaks over 4,000 coloured lamps. 

It is one of the few cinemas in Australia to retain both 35mm and 70mm film projection. 

The project also redeveloped the fly tower behind the stage, which will extend the usage of the theatre beyond film screenings to include new media, theatre and conference presentations.

The Capitol Theatre will now provide an educational hub with a range of work-integrated-learning, workshops, presentations and showcase experiences for students at RMIT’s vocational, tertiary and research programs. 

“RMIT students will have access to high quality training in a unique environment so they can develop skills in real world professional settings,” Ms Tierney said. 

The Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) will also present a variety of festivals and events at the theatre until mid-2020. 

The Capitol Theatre is anticipated to host more than 500 cultural, events festivals and performances with over 100,000 visitors during that time.

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