Restoration work on the Fox Theatre’s “Onion Dome,” which has been a part of the Midtown venue since it opened in 1929, is now complete.

Crafted by the local firm of Marye, Alger and Vinour, the dome, along with its two smaller counterparts, was designed to welcome guests at the Fox’s original main entrance on Kimball Street, which is now Ponce de Leon Avenue. The domes reflect the theatre’s unique architectural style, encompassing Middle Eastern designs such as pointed arches, minarets, and elaborate tiles.

“The rejuvenated Onion Dome not only reinforces the Fox Theatre’s structural integrity but also boosts its cultural prominence,” Rachel Bomeli, the theater’s Vice President of Facility Operations, said in a press release. “This project is a testament to our commitment to preserving this magnificent theater, blending routine maintenance with specialized conservation of original materials and modern technology.”

This renovation is a component of the Fox Theatre’s “Road to 100” initiative, aiming to prepare the theater for its centennial while accommodating annual upkeep alongside a larger project to preserve the integrity of its numerous rooftops.

The nearly century-old Onion Dome atop the Fox Theatre undergoing renovation in 2023.

The nearly century-old Onion Dome atop the Fox Theatre undergoing renovation in 2023.

Credit: Fox Theatre

Both practicality and aesthetics drove the refurbishment and relighting of the dome:

The aged, leaking roof beneath posed a risk to the structure and functionality of the space underneath and the extensive restoration involved replacing the roof and the dome’s inner floor, protecting the building from water damage.

Equally important was the project’s visual aspect. New lighting was installed at the Dome’s base to boost its evening allure and provide customizable color options for various events, holidays and other significant dates.

The restoration has notably enhanced the dome’s visual impact, which is especially evident upon closer inspection. In previous paint jobs, certain areas overlapped different hues, resulting in a blurred effect around the edges of the dome’s cross-shaped insets. Historical photographs revealed that this was not the original look.

For the 2022-2023 refurbishment, the painters adhered to the same two-color scheme but reinstated sharp, distinct edges around decorative features for a striking design impact.

In terms of lighting, the project went beyond external enhancements. A new overhead light was installed at the apex of the dome’s ceiling, brightly illuminating its interior. This addition makes the space more inviting and improves visibility for staff to monitor the dome’s copper exterior, iron framework, and newly installed flooring more effectively.

The restoration, spanning from August 2022 to February 2023, was executed by Karen Gravel of Lord Aeck Sargent who directed the architectural design. Phil Rutledge and Greg Sanford from Gay Construction led the project management. NOVA Engineering ensured structural soundness, and Fox Theatre’s Josslyn Stiner managed the entire project in her role as Restoration Manager and Onion Dome Project Manager.

Metro Waterproofing addressed waterproofing complexities, and the decorative metal band, a crucial visual feature, was revitalized by Tim Steinrock of Steinrock Roofing and Sheet Metal.

Marci Fowler of Ardd + Winter conceptualized the innovative lighting design, which was realized by Bob Metzger of Gene Lynn Electric.

MultiVista Construction Documentation captured the entire process through photos and drone imagery.

Financially, the project was managed precisely, concluding under the original $1.8 million budget by approximately $80,000.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.