The Chrysalis.

Performance Art

Nestled in 51-acre Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in Columbia, Maryland, The Chrysalis is part architecture, part art installation. The brainchild of New York-based firm Marc Fornes/TheVeryMany, it’s an amphitheater with a lofty vision. “We wanted to provide not just a destination but an experience,” says architect Fornes. “This is an architectural structure, a treehouse, and a public artwork, ready to be engaged.”

Built on a gentle slope, the structure is a collection of cascading arches that vary in size and function; two arches frame stages with space for equipment and lighting, while smaller arches on the sides and at the back double as loading docks and backstage entrances. An engineered terrain of steps nestles into the hillside, forming seating and other spaces for socializing, concerts and public performances.

Sixty-four feet tall at its highest point and 120 feet wide, The Chrysalis is formed from an exoskeleton of galvanized-steel tubing supporting a system of Zepps Profile Panels; a pleated shell made of 7,700 shingles clads its 12,000-square-foot surface. Four shades of green coat the outside of The Chrysalis, connecting the airy structure to its bucolic locale.

Design: Marc Fornes, Marc Fornes/TheVeryMany, New York, New York. Fabrication: Zahner, Kansas City, Missouri. Landscape Design: Mahan Rykiel Associates, Baltimore, Maryland.