April 14, 2010
by Canadian Architect
Award-winning Toronto-based architects Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) unveiled schematic designs for the renovation and expansion of Orchestra Hall, home of the Minnesota Orchestra in downtown Minneapolis. The $40-million project to revitalize Orchestra Hall – towards which the Orchestra has raised $38 million to-date – focuses on a reinvention of its public lobby spaces and creates a dramatic exterior that better connects the Hall to the city outside.
“In renovating Orchestra Hall, we made it a priority to preserve the iconic elements of the original 1974 design, while also re-envisioning aspects of the building to better fit the current city and context,” says architect Bruce Kuwabara, who serves as design partner on the renovation. “This project offers a remarkable opportunity to renew a great venue and revitalize Orchestra Hall’s relationship to the city of Minneapolis.”
The renovation doubles Orchestra Hall’s available lobby space, simplifies lobby circulation, adds two exterior terraces and creates a new multi-purpose “City Room” on the lobby’s west side that can flexibly accommodate a range of catered receptions, dinners and performances – and opens directly to a generous open-air terrace in warm months. “The expanded lobby will be one broad, interconnected space, and it will feel more inclusive,” says architect Marianne McKenna, who serves as partner-in-charge. “We’ve clarified the circulation, doubled the square footage per patron and improved access to amenities. All these factors contribute to the appeal of Orchestra Hall as a wonderful gathering place, ideal for its setting in the heart of downtown.”
The new Orchestra Hall is expected to open in 2013. Including State bonding support, the Orchestra’s fundraising for the renovated venue now totals $38 million, the vast majority of which has been raised in the last seven months. “We undertook this renovation in the midst of a very testing economy, and it has been critical that we tightly focus the scope of the project and run it with considerable discipline,” says President and CEO Michael Henson. “Our community has responded to this approach with tremendous support, and we are pleased to now unveil the new designs.”
“From our first meetings with KPMB, the architects grasped the complexities of the renovation and also saw its many exceptional possibilities,” continues Henson. “It has been fascinating to watch them create a renovated venue that preserves the signature elements of the current Orchestra Hall and yet creates something absolutely new.”
The project will also include modest renovations to backstage areas and to the auditorium, including refreshed finishes and updated lighting and sound systems. London-based Sound Space Design will oversee acoustics during the renovation, making appropriate onstage adjustments and ensuring that the auditorium’s current excellent acoustics are maintained through the renovation.
Says Music Director Osmo Vänskä, “It is a great thing when a community comes together to support the arts in such a strong way. The revitalization of our Hall will improve the experience of our audiences and players for decades to come.”