The Howard Theatre
Washington, D.C.
Ellis Development Group
Completed under Paola Moya’s leadership as CEO of Marshall Moya Design

The Howard Theatre

The Howard Theatre is the nation’s oldest African-American performance hall. It’s a powerful icon of African-American music history in Washington, D.C., and around the world. Our firm made state-of-the-art interior upgrades to meet the Howard Theatre’s changing needs. These updates coordinated with the restoration of the historic exterior and increased the Theatre’s flexibility to present a variety of events. It was an award-winning project with multiple honors, including a National Presidential Citation Award and an Award of Excellence in Historic Resources from the American Institute of Architects; a Timothy Anderson Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation; a Historic Preservation Award from the DC Office of Planning; a DC Catalyst Award from Uptown Professional Magazine; a Dandi Award; three American Graphic Design Awards; and an Honorable Mention at the International Design Awards.
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Because the Howard Theatre is a historic landmark, the entitlements process involved working with multiple offices such as the National Park Service, Historic Preservation Office, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The resulting design is a two-story venue with a basement, a full-service restaurant and bar, a full kitchen, and a dome ceiling with colorful LED lights. We added mesmerizing lightbox images of legendary performing artists to celebrate the venue’s history, and we branded a comprehensive relaunch event with promotional materials, press packs, live interviews, and celebrity performances. The $29 million project revitalized the Howard Theatre into a dynamic and modern multi-use space. Bookings range from contemporary music to leading celebrity events to traditional Sunday gospel brunches. The Howard Theatre’s newfound flexibility has enhanced its business success while invigorating the local community.