Gerding Theater at the Armory

Portland, OR
Creating a Modern Classic

Knot Studio designed a modern response to remodeling the historic Armory Annex into the new Gerding Theater, blending old and new in the 120-year-old building’s placemaking, wayfinding, and donor recognition program.

The 1891 Armory Annex building, designed in Castellated style, was home to the First Regiment Militia, and its aesthetic reflects fortress-like importance. Giving new life to the armory meant significant interior updates that reflected modern design more than 100 years after the building’s inception. Knot Studio’s solution was timeless but contemporary—highlighting modern design techniques and typefaces but not interfering with the 19th-century structure’s classic themes. A screened-back image of the building’s original wood trusses provides a background image for the donor program, and exterior banners recall those of London’s Globe Theater.

The $36 million project transformed the historic Armory Annex into a new space designed to give theater-goers an intimate experience. Its location in the Brewery Blocks of Portland’s Pearl District makes the Gerding Theater a cultural centerpiece and an essential part of the district’s early 2000s renaissance. Placemaking, wayfinding, and donor recognition signage designed by Knot Studio demonstrate how good design can respect both the past and the future.

56,000 sq ft
Portland Center Stage at the Armory
GBD Architects