Montreal’s Rialto Theatre revives iconic facade

8 Jun 2015

Since 2010, Montreal’s Rialto Theatre has undergone extensive renovations to bring the historic venue back to its former glory. Originally built in 1923 and designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1993, the venue has undergone several changes throughout its lifetime from its original use as a cinema to a high-end steakhouse in 2000 to the live entertainment space it now offers. After its 2010 purchase by current owners/operators Ezio Carosielli and Luisa Sassano, the venue has revitalized both the interior space and the iconic architectural elements of its façade, including a new exterior lighting system outfitted with Martin Professional architectural lighting solutions.

When structural renovations in the summer of 2014 presented an opportunity to refresh the façade, Garou Blancan, the Rialto’s Technical Director and winner of Martin Professional’s 2014 Young Lighting Designer Contest, designed a solution consisting of 46 Martin Exterior and Tripix fixtures. Blancan explained:
“I wanted to make the design as simple and efficient as possible. I’ve worked with Martin fixtures for over four years. The effort they put into research and development truly translates to their products.”   

The façade features many fine architectural details that Blancan wanted to highlight, so he broke his design into five zones, with each zone focusing on a different element of the façade. Zone 1 has four Tripix 1200 IP66-rated LED strips to light the Rialto Theatre Ornament above the main entrance, while Zone 2 features six Martin Exterior 50 IP68-rated fixtures to illuminate the façade roof. Blancan installed 15 Tripix 300 LED strips in Zone 3 to highlight the circular windows across the upper level of the façade and below in Zone 4 he used 15 Tripix Wash fixtures in the mid-level to cover the façade’s tall windows and columns. Zone 5 illuminates the area above the Marquee with three Exterior 410 fixtures per side. Blancan said:  
“The owners wanted to stay more reserved with lots of white and softer colors. Martin’s LED white is incomparable and with the Tripix series we were able to mix color directly at the lens to avoid shadows.”

Blancan was also required by the ownership to hide the fixtures from street views, which also meant housing the power supplies and control inside the theatre. As a national landmark and designated historic site, the ownership needed special permission to drill holes through the façade surface to lead power and control cabling from the fixtures to the control and power supply units inside. With cold temperatures reaching negative degrees Fahrenheit during Canadian winters, it was important for not only the fixtures to withstand the cold but also for the cable holes to be properly sealed from moisture to protect the façade from cracking. Blancan stated:
“Throughout this past winter we had temperatures as low as -40 degrees and the Martin fixtures withstood the cold without issue. To prevent cracking around the holes in the façade surface I used marine epoxy to create a waterproof seal around the cables.”

To control the exterior lighting design, Blancan deployed Martin’s M-PC software with USB-DMX interfaces. According to Blancan, he chose M-PC due to its RDM compatibility and to maintain consistency with the other Martin components in the design.

Noting that he recently won Martin’s M2GO portable console as his prize for the 2014 Young Lighting Designer Contest and uses an M1 console at the Rialto as well, Blancan concluded:
“I am a huge supporter of Martin controllers. The M-PC software is very architecturally friendly; you can easily pre-program shows and it’s the same software as Martin’s other M-Series consoles.”

Read more about Garou Blancan.