Meet Architect Doug Seiler

Our dream wouldn’t be possible without the help and creative genius of our architect team, Seiler and Drury Architecture.  We had the pleasure of speaking with Doug Seiler, Principal Architect, and wanted to share with you his insight on the project.
What are the biggest challenges/attractions of the new theatre space?

The biggest challenge would have to be the limited budget, because there are certain things, a theatre “must have” that can’t be improvised. The biggest physical challenge was the strong desire to have the theatre space on the first floor. This meant removing two structural concrete columns that are supporting four floors of space above. We accomplished this by installing four massive steel beams at the floor just above the theater to support the upper floors and to “hang” the second floor itself.  This allowed the sight lines in the theatre house to be unencumbered, since we could then rake the seating as much as possible.

The biggest attraction for us is the opportunity to create what we hope will be a little jewel of a theatre.  We expect it to be very intimate, with good ensemble and what we hope will be excellent acoustics.  The curved seating layout and reverse-fan floor plan all contribute to such an outcome.

How do you think the theatre will positively impact the local community of Norristown?

I seriously expect the arrival of the new Theatre Horizon to impact the downtown like no other project has in decades.  Parking garages are nice, but they aren’t destinations.  The same applies to murals, streetscapes and infrastructure.  All nice things, but it takes the vigor of youth, the sparkle of the arts and a perception that something of value is happening to create the type of buzz that brings artists, visitors and patrons to a community.  There’s nothing like a fun night out and a place to go, to change people’s perceptions.
Describe your relationship with Theatre Horizon.
Technically, my firm, Seiler + Drury Architecture, are the designers of the theatre, working for the landlord.  In that capacity, we wear many hats and sometimes serve as an arbitrator when people’s goals are in conflict – which really, since the Municipality first embraced the idea, have been few.  I’ve been arguing in favor of a cultural district in downtown Norristown since we opened our doors in Norristown over twelve years ago, and way before I was the inaugural president of the Norristown Arts Council.  Ever since I met Matt and Erin, I’ve also been angling to get their wonderful selves, and their very cool theatre company in the downtown district.   To that end, the three of us, very early on, began drawing plans, to do just that.  The rest was simple prodding and sticking to the message.Finally, we’re neighbors on Arts Hill.  Erin, Matt and I represent the type of creative-industries pioneer, that is willing to give something new a try, even though the bulk of the world has overlooked what to us seems obvious –  Norristown is convenient, urban, safe and soon, with a little luck…will be hip.
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