Kier Construction and architectural firm Bennetts Associates have won a £37.5m design and build contract to transform the former Odeon cinema on Northgate Street in Chester into a new cultural centre.
The 800-seat theatre will be part of a new building, which will be connected to the existing structure by foyer spaces.
Under the project, the Odeon itself will be restored and converted into a city library, including a café, study spaces and a 120-seat screen situated on the former cinema balcony.
The main theatre auditorium will also be converted into a 600-seat venue to support Chester-based productions and a separate 150-seat studio will provide rehearsal and education space.
Kier expects to start work in February 2015 and complete the project in 19 months.
Kier Construction managing director of operations in the north Gary Wintersgill said, "We are delighted to be part of the team selected to deliver what will be an outstanding new cultural facility for Chester and the wider community."
Bennetts Associates, which was previously appointed in June 2012 to produce the concept design for the new cultural complex, will start detailed design work immediately.
Bennetts Associates director Simon Erridge said that the project is ‘the most significant new building project in Chester for decades’.
"Chester’s brief is incredibly imaginative, demonstrating that it is possible for redundant buildings to be transformed and regenerate the cultural and economic life of our city centres," Erridge said.
Bennetts Associates was previously responsible for the design of the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the new Hampstead Theatre in London.
Image: The 800-seat theatre will be housed in a new building, connected to the existing structure by open foyer spaces. Photo: Courtesy of Kier Group.