Sunday, January 4, 2009

Could Symphony make use of Convention Center?

QUESTION FROM PRIVATE LIST: "If the CC works out some type of accommodation with the Symphony, how good are the acoustics etc? Is that what is being considered?"

RESPONSE FROM PRIVATE LIST: "I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with one of Cooper Carry's architects who was a lead designer of the convention center. I asked him if it would have been possible to design the convention hall as a multi-purpose center. He told me that Cooper Carry had been asked to investigate that possibility, and they were unable to make it work in the space allotted.

"The 45,000 square foot main exhibition hall is really crammed into a relatively tight space, in fact it is constructed at an angle so it clears what remains of the historic buildings on the site. (Personally, I think it might have been done, with lots of money, a slightly smaller main exhibition hall, and significant structural changes.)

"Right now, the acoustics in the convention center are nonexistent. The barn ceiling has bare steel trusses with exposed heating and air conditioning ducts, electrical conduit, and sprinkler pipes. The walls are hard drywall on steel studs.

"I suspect it would be possible to convert the main hall so performances would be possible, but there are MANY obstacles. A performance would only be able to use the space in the barn, not underneath Ballroom A, since the low ceiling would mangle the acoustics and block the view. A stage would need to be constructed (I'm not sure if a portable one would be acceptable), and collapsible stadium seating would need to be added (which could interfere with some of the entrances to the main exhibit hall).

"Lighting, curtains, and other utilities would have to be hung from the barn roof trusses, and an acoustically designed ceiling would need to be added (requiring a redesign of lighting and utilities). Acoustic elements would need to be added to all four walls, including along Ballroom A where large windows overlook the convention hall floor.

"Plus, a sound and lighting control room would need to be added. After millions of dollars in renovations, the result would be a large hall with poor staging, lousy acoustics, uncomfortable seating, and less floor space for exhibits.

"In other words, forget about it."