Prior Redevelopment Studies of Memorial Auditorium

The opportunity for renewal of Memorial Auditorium so that it can thrive and serve as a center of community activity and a driver of economic activity has engaged the imagination of city residents, municipal officials and community leaders for many years.

Examples of some of the more formal efforts to imagine a new future for Memorial Auditorium are presented below, this includes the 2018 Renewal Process, as well as Prior Redevelopment Studies between 2001 and 2014. We will learn from and build on these prior efforts as we complete our current work. 

See references to Memorial Auditorium and Burlington's vision for land use and development in the City in planBTV and planBTV Downtown & Waterfront.

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You can also email us at sdunn@burlingtonvt.gov or call us at 802-865-7144


During the summer and fall of 2018, the City created an adaptive reuse plan for Memorial Auditorium to remain a publicly owned, public assembly space, based on input from stakeholders and the public. Stakeholder and community input were collected through community workshops, public tours, interviews, and a city-wide survey culminating in Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc.'s Final Report of Adaptive Reuse Plans (Historical Renovations & Additions) for Memorial Auditorium, which was presented in Burlington City Hall on December 6th, 2018. To create this adaptive re-use plan, we engaged consultants in the creation of conceptual designs, construction pricing, and financing options. Bargmann Hendrie created conceptual designs, Dedalus came up with construction pricing, and Jeff Glassberg created the financing options.

The Memorial PACC (Parks, Arts, and Culture Committee) Presentation (held on December 6, 2018) explained the following: community and stakeholder input collection and public approval process; Memorial Auditorium floor and usage plans; project and cost reports; and four (4) realistic concept proposals the City could choose from.

CEDO's process to determine the future of Memorial Auditorium was guided by the community, planBTV, planBTV Downtown & Waterfront, City Administration, and by the principles of equity, participation, and transparency.

In 2018, CEDO commissioned The Center for Research & Public Policy (CRPP) to conduct a city-wide survey of Burlington residents to collect input regarding the renovation of Memorial Auditorium - CRPP received 2,583 completed surveys.

August 23, 2018: CRPP of Waterbury, VT, presented the following survey results: CRPP Survey Results Presentation - 8.23.2018

The results of this survey directly affected BH + A's Final Report Memorial Auditorium adaptive re-use plan, which was presented on December 6, 2018.

Over the past 20 to 30 years, the City’s Administrations and the community worked to keep Memorial Auditorium open and active, as can be seen by the reports, design charrettes, surveys, and ideas collected in the pages below. 

On September 26, 2017, an All Wards NPA meeting (video link) was held concerning Memorial Auditorium. Here, two (2) resolutions were passed: the first advising City Council and the Mayor to maintain Memorial Auditorium as a publicly-owned community commons; and the second to empower and honor an NPA-led public process to determine future uses of Memorial.

The takeaway from these public engagement processes showed that restoring the building and preserving the use of Memorial Auditorium as a public assembly space continued to be a priority in the Burlington community.

On December 15, 2017, Mayor Miro Weinberger issued a memorandum to the City Council that discussed how the City's Administration would develop plans and designs to rehabilitate and steward the Memorial Auditorium for future generations to enjoy. In this memo, the Mayor outlined his proposed next steps to bring the building back to life:

  • Create an adaptive reuse plan for Memorial Auditorium to remain a publicly-owned, public assembly space with input from stakeholders and members of the public.
  • Create conceptual designs, construction pricing, and financing options for this adaptive re-use plan that reflects that feedback and provides details on the cost and possible sources of funds.
  • Complete this plan so that it can be considered by the Council for a November 2018 ballot item.

The 2013 planBTV Downtown & Waterfront translates the broad, city-wide goals for sustainable development into focused, actionable, area specific strategies to ensure the vitality of the central core of the city.

The 2013 plan discussed Memorial Auditorium in the “Main Street&rdguo; section. It noted that the re-development of the block located at the intersection of Main Street and South Winooski Avenue would help to act as both an anchor and gateway to the downtown. One of the goals notes this block could be transformed to create a more interesting and activated street, suggesting that the City should initiate a redevelopment study of the  entire block, identifying potential uses/activities, physical obstacles, and constraints in the process.

The 2019 planBTV, which serves as Burlington’s “Municipal Development Plan,” presented a vision for land use and development in the city over the next 10- to 20-year period. This plan outlined goals and objectives for the future and is the principal guide directing land use and policy decision-making for the city. In considering a future for Memorial Auditorium, it was critical to be mindful of planBTV’s guiding principles: 

  • Support and strengthen our neighborhoods.
  • Concentrate mixed-use, high-density development within growth centers including the center city, neighborhood activity centers, and institutional core campuses.
  • Long-term protection and stewardship for natural areas and open space.
  • Hey Zach, something was here but it showed up very disjointed in the source. Need to replace
  • Respect for the city’s architectural and cultural history.
  • Support long-term solutions over short-term fixes to community needs and problems.
  • Promote collaboration and cooperation through working partnerships between governments, non-profits, institutions, and businesses.
  • Increased participation in decision-making.

To address and incorporate all of the considerations from the survey results, public input, and the City&rquo;s long range plans, CEDO worked with a consultant to:

  • Learn from people who have been involved in the operation and programming of Memorial Auditorium in the past. See a summary of the key points we heard, as well as summaries of individual interviews.
  • Hear from people who were currently involved in those same activities to understand their space needs.
  • Understand how other buildings similar to Memorial Auditorium are operated and programmed in other municipalities. See the summary of the findings.

We developed the following objectives for the process of gathering information

  • Identified the core programming and uses that were in the building in the past or were suggested in past planning charrettes and meetings.
  • Considered other building uses suggested from the public or through research on other such auditoriums through the country.
  • Collected input from the public through NPA (Neighborhood Planning Assemblies) meetings, workshops, survey, etc. on preferred uses of Memorial Auditorium.
  • Issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) to generate estimates of what it will cost to restore Memorial Auditorium to the preferred uses identified.
  • Outlined options for operating the building with associated costs.
  • Developed suggested funding tools for consideration for a public vote.

The 2014 Burlington City Arts Site Analysis Conceptual Development Study was a high-level study that looked at the programming needs of Burlington City Arts. It assessed how two (2) city-owned properties - Memorial Auditorium, and the former Public Works Garage at 339 Pine Street - might be configured to address the needs at that time.

The 2002 BH+A Design Recommendations for Burlington Community Recreation Center was a study that included conceptual designs and cost estimates to significantly enhance the ability of Memorial Auditorium to function as a modern, efficient performance and public assembly space by building an addition to the north to house a loading dock and elevator tower.

The 2001 Design Charrette was completed as one of a series of neighborhood-based design studies organized by CEDO. This report summarized the conclusions and potential opportunities identified for Memorial Auditorium.