Client: Prospector Theater
Location: Ridgefield, CT, United States
Completion date: 2014
Doyle Coffin Architecture
Valerie Jensen, Founder
bahdeebahdu design studio
Nat Hoyt, FAIA
Located in Ridgefield’s historic Main Street district, the Main Lobby experience of the Prospector Theater is an extension of the street, drawing patrons in, busy with activity. This space provides a wide spectrum of uses supporting the Prospector’s mission – to provide meaningful employment to adults with developmental disabilities. Such a dynamic space needed an equally dynamic piece of artwork as a finishing touch to bring all of these elements together. The ‘Prospectolier’, a chandelier designed by Warren Muller, consists of two pieces: one approximately 27 feet tall and 1,000 pounds and the other 7 feet tall and 500 pounds.
The Prospector Theater is a non-profit, first-run movie theater that provides jobs and vocational training opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities – it’s the first of its kind. The client wanted to be sure that all interior finishes and artwork in the building had meaning and represented the mission of the theater. The client and artist visited a variety of flea markets to hand pick the items that would become part of the chandelier. The artist then created the sculpture, incorporating lighting design into the piece to showcase it during the day as well as at night. The goal of the theater shares the same goal as the chandelier – to take discarded objects that appear inadequate and impractical and create something that is dynamic, beautiful and functional, showcasing each element’s true potential. In the case of the Prospector Theater, this means to showcase the talents of their employees, to see beyond their disability and recognize them as beautiful, hardworking and determined individuals who can make significant contributions to society and their respective communities.
Both a piece of sculpture as well as a light fixture, the chandelier required a means of access to replace lightbulbs when necessary. Careful coordination was needed throughout the process to ensure that the chandelier could not only be supported structurally from above but also have the proper electrical connections. Two winches were designed to allow the chandelier sections to be lowered for maintenance and a cable reel was incorporated into the design for the electrical cable to extend and retract as the chandelier sections are lowered and then raised back into place. The artist designed the piece to be transported in 4 pieces, each one connecting to the next and then hoisted into place. The result is a beautiful piece that not only complements the design of the dynamic lobby space but also fills the lobby with whimsical excitement. It has become a wonderful conversation piece as well for patrons and employees alike.