Designs showcasing possible improvements to the Lemon Tree could be produced by the spring as part of a multi-million-pound refurbishment.
Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), which runs the iconic gig venue, has now found architects to carry out a feasibility study on the ageing premises.
The city council’s arm’s length culture charity has handed Richard Murphy Architects a wish list for the 1930s building, with the initial work expected to be completed by March.
Having provided a stage for artists like Radiohead, Lewis Capaldi, LCD Soundsystem and Emeli Sande on their way to global fame, the West North Street venue is an established part of the national touring circuit for musicians, comedians and theatre groups alike.
As part of a £3 million project, APA has tasked its architects with developing two options for upgrades – but could yet pursue neither.
APA’s Lemon Tree refurbishment wish list
Along with essential repairs to the windows, roof, electrical wiring and plumbing, and a fresh lick of paint, bosses are keen to extend the former Christian women’s and community centre.
An extension, it is hoped, would allow space for a new foyer, box office and street-level cafe and bar.
Design briefs seen by Aberdeen Journals also list a recording studio and new office accommodation to make space for another cultural organisation or festival as “nice to have”.
Upgrades are being eyed for the 550-standing music space and for a 50% increase in seating in the Lemon Tree theatre space.
Disabled access, soundproofing, lighting and sound systems, and toilets could be improved, while new energy-efficient heating systems are being looked at.
Two small dressing rooms and a new green room for artists could also form part of the project.
However, APA has made it clear in the brief for the work that the “informal, relaxed, friendly, intimate, adaptable, lively, off-beat style and sense of story and history of the venue” has to be retained despite the modernisation.
Lemon Tree refurbishment could play lead role in Queen Street overhaul
It comes as the local authority prepares a culture-led, residential, multi-million-pound revamp of the entire Queen Street area, which requires the demolition of the former north-east police headquarters.
And APA chief executive, Jane Spiers, said there were many firms vying to make a mark on the “legendary” springboard for up-and-coming artists as part of that.
“We have had a lot of interest in the feasibility study, which is looking into options for an upgrade of the Lemon Tree as part of the plans to redevelop Queen Street and put culture at its heart,” she said.
“We have appointed Richard Murphy Architects, who have a great track record and we’re happy to have them on board.
“The study is expected to be complete by the end of March but there is no commitment at this stage beyond that.”
Aberdeen City Council and business quango Scottish Enterprise are paying for the exploratory work.
Aberdeen University is also considering what part it can play in the desired ‘cultural quarter’, potentially looking to reopen the long-missed Marischal Museum and other lesser used parts of the Granite City’s most celebrated building.