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Metro Theatre
Central, Johannesburg, Gauteng

COWIN, POWERS and ELLIS: Project Architect
Thomas W LAMB: Architect

Date:1932
Type:Theatre
Status:Demolished
Street:221 Bree St

Cumming George 1933

THIS building, erected for the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Corporation of New York on a site at the corner of Bree and Hoek Streets, Johannesburg, is notable for the clever arrangement of the main entrance on the corner of the site and the use of the areas under the balcony for a lounge and retiring rooms.

The entrance opens into a grand foyer and promenade giving access to the orchestra floor. Its seating accommodation is for 1,600. The remainder of the ground floor is occupied by shops and a manager's room. A staircase at the side of the foyer leads to the mezzanine promenade and the balcony.

Special attention has been given to the retiring rooms and cloak rooms, and these are fitted in sumptuous style; a special cosmetic room for ladies is provided, with elaborate dressing tables and mirrors lighted by concealed lamps. There is a smoking room, and drinking fountains supplied with iced water are at hand in the lounge. The doors and panelling are a very special feature.

The system of ventilation is on the new mechanical process of conditioned air, no reliance being necessary on the opening of windows. Except for some fabric in panels on the walls of the orchestra floor, no other provision is made for sound absorption throughout: the architect claims that the design of the theatre is adapted to prevent echoes.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

Benjamin, Arnold. 1979. Lost Johannesburg. Johannesburg: Macmillan South Africa (Publishers) (Pty) Ltd. pg 76-77
Cumming-George, L. 1933. Architecture in South Africa - Volume One. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 55-56
van der Waal, Gerhard-Mark. 1987. From Mining Camp to Metropolis - The buildings of Johannesburg 1886-1940. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pg 192 ill