Creating the Chrysalis

Chrysalis after completion

The completed Chrysalis amphitheater in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in Columbia, Maryland. (Click for a higher-resolution version.) Image © 2017 Frank Hecker; available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

April 22, 2017 marked the official opening of the Chrysalis amphitheater, the first element of the Inner Arbor plan to be constructed as part of the planned Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in Columbia, Maryland. The series “Creating the Chrysalis”

  • explains in detail the design and construction of the Chrysalis amphitheater in layperson’s terms;
  • highlights the various organizations on the “Chrysalis team” and the parts each of them have played or are playing in its creation.
  • describes the place of the Chrysalis amphitheater within the plan for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods and the overall history of Symphony Woods itself; and
  • includes and provides context for more visual material relating to the Chrysalis, including detailed renderings, excerpts from engineering drawings, and photographs of construction and fabrication.

“Creating the Chrysalis” includes the following articles:

  1. Symphony Woods: The history of Symphony Woods and the various attempts over the years to develop it as a park.
  2. Vision and strategy: The initial vision for a new park in Symphony Woods and the strategy to implement that vision, as developed from the initial Inner Arbor concept plan to the current county-approved plan for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods.
  3. Politics and process: The various institutional activities related to implementation of the Inner Arbor plan, with a focus on the Columbia Association, the Inner Arbor Trust, and the Howard County government, including its planning process.
  4. Design: The overall form of the Chrysalis and how that design came to be.
  5. Theater: The theatrical functions of the Chrysalis, including the stage, sound system, theatrical lighting, and “back of house” functions.
  6. Shell structure: The steel framework supporting the Chrysalis skin and the theatrical equipment.
  7. Shell skin: The skin forming the external surface of the Chrysalis.
  8. Subfloor: The structural concrete foundation/basement or “subfloor” of the Chrysalis, and related construction.
  9. Details, details: The final details of the Chrysalis and its surroundings.
  10. Attracting the public: How the Chrysalis and other features of Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods will accomodate the general public and attract visitors.
  11. What comes next: Future features of Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, including the Butterfly, the Merriground, the Picnic Table, the Caterpillar, and the Merriweather Horns.
  12. Timeline: A detailed timeline, with references, of the events and activities from the creation of Symphony Woods through the public opening of the Chrysalis amphitheater.

This series is based on material published by the Inner Arbor Trust and others, as well as on my previous blog posts about the Inner Arbor plan and its various features. Any opinions expressed are solely mine as an individual and do not necessarily represent the views of the Inner Arbor Trust, its contractors and partners, or any other person or organization.

All materials created by me for this series are available for use by others under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For photographs and other images, include a standard photo credit. For textual material beyond the scope of fair use, use a notice similar to the following:

This work contains material from “Creating the Chrysalis” by Frank Hecker, originally published at and released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

For further exploration

For more of my opinions on and explanations of various aspects of the Chrysalis and Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, see the Inner Arbor-related posts in the series “The Inner Arbor plan takes shape” and elsewhere on this blog. (Note that some of these posts contain outdated information relating to park features that were later dropped or revised.)