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  • Type Visioning
  • Services Architecture, Graphics, Interiors
  • Size 24,000 SF
  • Awards AIA Eastern PA

A building with roots in the 1920s should
roar into the 2020s.

Most familiar to the Bethlehem community as the Boyd Theater, the building at 32 W. Broad St. dominates the block both in physical size and vacant sadness. Stretching nearly the length of a key block in the downtown core, the building that once housed a single-screen movie theater was also home to ancillary businesses like a nightclub, an art gallery and a burrito joint. In its deep history, this was the Kurtz Theater & Café, a vaudeville that opened in 1921 and was called “a showplace” by the local press. It symbolized a period of prosperity and elegance in Bethlehem. The Kurtz was a place to see and be seen, the starting point for an evening of fine dining and entertainment.


Branding for 32 West plays on art deco influences. A simple white and black color palette is highlighted in minimalist gold that glimmers on edges and geometric patterns throughout the space. The effect is understated elegance that is unique not only to Downtown Bethlehem but also to the Lehigh Valley.

Facing Broad Street and rising three stories above the street 32 West’s thick masonry base and limestone façade reference the original mass of the Kurtz Theater. Set back from the street level and rising above a front porch feature is the rest of the six-story structure. Metal panels and class on this façade are built in a pattern to mimic a flowing stage curtain as seen just seconds before the show starts.


Inspired by and respectful of the history of this block, 32 West is designed around the concept of a theater. The C-shaped building has two main features: The Stage and Backstage. The Stage is a three-story section offering retail, amenity and event space. At six stories, Backstage encapsulates living areas designed with the flexibility to accommodate residents in apartments and condos or visitors in hotel rooms. Included on the site is a central courtyard and underground parking.

On The Stage, ground floor retail faces Broad Street and positions the building as the block’s energy anchor. Four well-proportioned storefronts offer an array of options as restaurants, galleries or boutiques. The lobby is designed in pace with these storefronts, but its entrance is distinct and welcomes residents and visitors into a grand space that sets the scene for an elegant experience. The lobby offers an opportunity for visual art, perhaps an iconic wall piece or a sculpture created from remnants of the old Boyd.

Moving to the second floor, The Stage presents room for amenities like a fitness area, meeting rooms and a business center. On the third floor, a large ballroom opens to a balcony above Broad Street and offers an unmatched experience where weddings, birthday parties and events take Downtown Bethlehem’s center stage.

Backstage residents get a peek behind the curtain. This side of 32 West offers privacy and unique views that are shielded from the traffic and noise of Broad Street. Architecturally, Backstage is designed to allow for a flexible operation and gives the developer options for future use. Modular floor plans are set on a 12-foot grid that can accommodate one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio units. Studios are sized suitably for hotel rooms meaning that Backstage is responsive to the market and can be developed to own, rent or book the space. Leaning into the naturally sloped landscape, floor layouts offer both a single-loaded and double-loaded corridor for maximized efficiency.

The Backstage area continues on the fourth floor above The Stage; however, the frontage sits back from Broad Street to avoid overpowering the block’s pedestrian view. The upper stories facing Broad Street feature a metal paneled patterned façade that is designed to reference a theater curtain. The building is built off property lines to allow for more window opportunities. Units are designed to support balconies that architecturally allude to the backstage rigging behind a theater curtain.