MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY envisions chrysalis amphitheater for merriweather park
all images courtesy of MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY



on september 12th, ground was broken for ‘the chrysalis’, a monumental amphitheater set within columbia, maryland’s merriweather park. new york-based art and architecture studio MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY has conceived its largest project to date to both satisfy the programmatic needs of a structure used for live performances, and to provide a space that can be experienced and enjoyed the public.


with these objectives in mind, the studio designed the scheme with a covered deck, so when the stage is not in use for official events, it can be adapted as a destination for informal social interaction. passers-by can use the shelter as a place of retreat from the sun and rain, or a space for those seeking a contemplative point to look out at the city without being seen.

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view of the front ramp leading up to the stage




the design is characterized by several arches of varying sizes formed from lightweight aluminum surfaces, each able to function independently. the front-facing arch frames the stage, intended for large music events; the adjacent arch of stage B hosts children’s and informal performances; and a third arch at the rear serves as a loading dock.

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overview of the amphitheater shows the audience positioning and a band on stage




‘chrysalis’ is achieved through mesh inflation — a form-finding process. in the first step of this method, a geometry is anchored at various points and force is applied, with the objective to inflate the surface and create a space within. the second step is a matter of creating pleats to achieve structural depth. the structurally-performative surface is capable of taking live loads equivalent to the weight of 25 cars.


colors taken from the environment are saturated to a level of artificiality, both adapting ‘chrysalis’ to its surroundings, and allowing it to stand out as a visual icon within the park. the placement of the amphitheater’s footprint carefully negotiates the surrounding trees, making it a space that is simultaneously within and away from nature.

chrysalis by THEVERYMANY STUDIO designboom
the prominent front-facing arch frames a stage

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the visualization shows the loading dock area of the amphitheater

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colors are sourced from the surrounding environment

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top view of the amphitheater in the park

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rendering of the amphitheater within the landscape



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axonometric drawing


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sectional drawing


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sectional drawing



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site plan



project info:


commissioned by: inner arbor trust
engineer / theatrical / lighting: arup
architect of record: living design lab
specialty fabrication: zahner
initial structural concept: laufsed