Two Architectural Firms Honored for Lerner Renovations

April 26, 2013

Architects behind the renovation and expansion of the histortic Lerner Theatre have been honored with a national award.

The national design firm Moody Nolan and Cripe Design of Elkhart were recognized with the Sympathetic Addition Award for their addition and façade restoration of the theater.

The Sympathetic Addition Award is part of the Palladio Awards, the only national architectural competition honoring projects for excellence in traditional design.

“To be recognized for our ability to enhance the beauty of the historic Lerner Theatre encapsulates the essence of our mission to provide responsive architecture,” said Curtis Moody, president and CEO of Moody Nolan. “The prestige of this historic restoration award solidifies the diversity and the talents of our architects despite our national reputation as a firm specializing in education, sports/recreation, collegiate and healthcare design.”

Moody Nolan has offices in Indianapolis.

Cripe Design, a longtime Elkhart firm, was the lead architectural firm and relied on Moody Nolan for consulting on the historical renovation aspects, said Daniel Cripe, owner of the company.

“It’s quite the honor,” Cripe said Friday.

The Lerner has been a landmark in downtown Elkhart since its construction in 1924. Extensive renovations were completed about two years ago, and the newly revived entertainment center is considered the hallmark of the city’s efforts to reinvigorate the downtown business district.

The award recognizes the sensitivity and compatibility of an addition to a historic structure, according to Moody Nolan.

The firm took its inspiration for renovations directly from the original building’s existing Beaux Arts/Neo Classical architecture in terms of massing, scale and detail motifs, according to information in a press release provided by Moody Nolan.

Renovations of the four-story building and construction of the new Crystal Ballroom to the north “created a seamless expression” between old and new phases of the project.

The building was originally known as the Lerner Theatre and named after an Elkhart businessman, Henry Lerner, who wanted to build a grand theater. It was later known as the Warner Theatre and then the Elco.

The city acquired the theater in 1990, according to the theater’s website.

The Lerner name was restored after renovations were complete in 2011.

The city was honored last year with the Cook Cup, a restoration award from Indiana Landmarks Association for renovations at the Lerner.

Representatives of the company will receive the award on May 21 in Washington, D.C., Cripe said.