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Update on Teatro Capitólio

During a May 2009 visit to New York, members of Citizens for Capitólio, a Lisbon-based watchdog group which has campaigned for Teatro Capitólio (1925-31) in Lisbon, took the opportunity to call in at World Monuments Fund, which had placed the building on their 2006 Watch list of endangered sites. During the informal meeting, they were able to brief WMF staff on recent progress to restore and rehabilitate the Capitólio.

Citizens for Capitólio was formed in direct response to a Lisbon City Council proposal in 2003 to demolish the structure (which had functioned simultaneously as theatre, cinema and vaudeville hall until its closure in the 1980s) and replace it with a new theater designed by Frank Gehry as part of a larger plan to redevelop the area. The nomination of the building by the group and its successful inclusion in the WMF list were instrumental in reversing the proposal. Awareness about the listing created by the media also helped to increase public support to save one of Portugal's most important 20th-century buildings.

Following an international competition in early 2009, an architectural team led by Portuguese architect Souza Oliveira was selected, and now a project to revive this iconic structure has begun!

The commencement of Phase One of the restoration on March 22, 2010 was a significant milestone in the uncertain journey of a somewhat misunderstood, but precious, architectural treasure. By August, asbestos and other hazardous materials had been removed; structures added to the building after its consruction had been removed; unsafe parts of the original building were demolished (and will be rebuilt); and a further assessment of the structural and material condition of the original building was undertaken.

This first phase of work has returned the building to its original profile. When fully completed in 2012, Teatro Capitólio will re-emerge with many original features and its bold Modernist lines restored, and as a new venue for entertainment in the 21st century.