Music Hall Renovations
RENOVATION PROJECT FACTS
Music Hall, one the nation’s most treasured performance venues, is undergoing a major renovation in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood that will realize long-awaited updates and upgrades throughout this iconic structure that builds upon its world-class acoustics and retain the hall’s historic grandeur.
These include a refreshed exterior that connects the hall more directly to the neighborhood; a refreshed Springer Auditorium with new, more comfortable seating and flexible configurations for different types of performances; improved access for those with disabilities including two new fast-traction elevators; new practice rooms, dressing rooms and other backstage necessities for performers; a new large rehearsal/event space on the second floor and a new event space on the first floor; new high-density storage for the largest orchestra library in the world; expanded restrooms and concessions; various features to improve safety and energy efficiency; and other enhancements to improve the concert-going experience.
1241 Elm Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phase I: Preliminary work commences backstage – August 8, 2015
Phase II: North and South Hall work commences – December 21, 2015
Phase III: Comprehensive renovation commences with full facility shutdown – June 1, 2016
Completion: September of 2017
Cost: $135 million (raised through public and private contributions)
Square footage added:
Level 1: 4,121
Level 1.5: 8,958
Level 2: 11,217
Level 2.5: 3,475
Level 3: 3,778
Otto M. Budig, Jr., Board Chair
Music Hall Resident Companies
Steve Leeper, President & CEO
Adam Gelter, Executive Vice President, Development
Jeff Martin, Vice President, Project Management
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION PRINCIPALS
Paul Scarbrough, Principal
Anthony Nittoli, Principal
Sam Brandt, AV/Security/IT Manager
Chris Blair, Project Acoustician
Gary Martinez, President
Thomas Johnson, Principal
Adam Field, Project Manager
Gary Millard, Senior Project Executive
Brian Campbell, Project Executive
Perfido, Weiskopf, Wagstaff + Goettel (PWWG)
Alan Weiskopf, Managing Principal
Kevin Wagstaff, Principal Designer
Jan Lyle Irvin, Project Manager
Michael DiBlasi, Partner/Designer
Michael Burgoyne, Principal Designer
Paul Whitaker, Project Designer
Music Hall Before and After Gallery
SUMMARY: MAJOR NEW AND RENOVATED SPACES
Exterior: Music Hall’s grand façade will feature newly reopened windows, letting in daylight, and reconnecting this treasured structure with Washington Park and the surrounding Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. New accent lighting will illuminate Music Hall at night, and the rose window will be illuminated from inside. The outside plaza in front of the building will be replaced with a pattern further connecting Music Hall to Washington Park and will also feature new greenery. The uncovered handicap ramp will be removed and a new street-level ADA-friendly entrance will be added.
Springer Auditorium: This auditorium space is iconic and will retain and restore beloved historic features including the proscenium, fascias, and restored fresco on the ceiling. The gorgeous chandelier remains and will have the ability to be safely lowered and then raised leading up to the performance. Accessibility and sightlines will be improved and the seats will be noticeably wider with more legroom on all three levels. Under the surface, balcony trusses will be necessarily reinforced so these levels can remain structurally sound for future generations. A new stage lift system will provide flexibility to the space and can change as needed by the resident companies, resulting in the seat capacity ranging from 2,263 up to 2,524.
The acoustic process has been meticulous, engaging the world’s foremost acousticians, the Orchestra’s artistic leadership, CSO musicians and resident company artistic leaders to not only protect the space, but improve the listening experience in all sections of Springer Auditorium. Tests have included the construction of a temporary stage, trying multiple tower and reflector positions while the full orchestra played, and an extensive evaluation by the acousticians on each level. The walls will be adjusted on the first and second levels to make Music Hall’s natural sound more present, immersive and more evenly distributed to every seat in Springer Auditorium.
Sound and light locks and modern, quiet mechanical systems also improve the listening experience.
Edyth B. Lindner Grand Foyer: Natural light will flow into the Grand Foyer thanks to the removal of the exterior overhang. The gorgeous, welcoming space inside will be refreshed, but retain the historic plaster rosettes, coffered ceiling and marble floor. The glass separating the North and South halls from the main lobby will be removed, opening that space and greatly improving the flow. The gift shop will no longer protrude into the Grand Foyer, obstructing the natural flow, but rather will be located where the Music Hall Box Office used to be. An audience lounge off the Grand Foyer, equipped with a live feed monitor to the auditorium, will be available to have a seat before the performance, visit with friends, and enjoy food and drink. If audience members are running a few minutes late and the performance has already started, this is where they can comfortably wait for the ushers to seat them.
Corbett Tower: For this event space that serves many purposes, the drop ceiling will be removed and the original cove ceiling with stenciled pattern has been restored, adding 14 feet of height and restoring a dramatic space. Corbett Tower has beautiful new finishes, improved food and beverage service, a convenient catering service area, superior accessibility via new elevators, and the large windows overlooking Washington Park, once partially obstructed, are now completely open.
Second Floor Rehearsal/Event Space: Reclaimed from the massive non-public, two-story tall “paint/scene shop” that many decades ago hosted everything from professional boxing matches to University of Cincinnati basketball games, a new flexible rehearsal/event space with a high ceiling will be added on the second floor, complete with exposed brick, sprung floor for dancers, and its own lobby and dressing rooms. This new room will provide much-needed rehearsal space for Music Hall’s resident companies and another potential public space for receptions and meetings.
First Floor Event Space: Off the South Hall, a smaller flexible event space perfect for receptions, meetings and small dinners will be created from repurposed carriageway space, conveniently located near Springer Auditorium. This additional community gathering space will feature exposed brick, a dramatic ceiling, two dedicated restrooms and audio-visual capabilities.
Ballroom: Music Hall’s Ballroom will be an elegant event space with polished maple floor and dramatic ceiling. The organ, built in 1927 for the RKO Albee Theatre in downtown Cincinnati, will remain on the west end of the Ballroom, and other features of that grand event space will also remain from that historic theater. The Ballroom will be more accessible than ever thanks to the bank of new, public elevators connecting it to the rest of Music Hall’s levels, and an improved catering facility gives the space improved service and flexibility. Restrooms will also be updated and access to and from Springer Auditorium will be improved.
Box Office: The brand new Box Office will be located at an accessible, street-level entrance off Elm Street next to the stairs ascending to the Ballroom and can be used by any of Music Hall’s resident companies. Modern elevators adjacent to this new Box Office connect audience members to all of Music Hall’s levels, including the Ballroom.
Concessions: The renovated Hall will include substantially increased concession capacity, including at least five new permanent service concessions.In addition, catering service areas have been upgraded for Corbett Tower and the Ballroom.
Restrooms: The total number of public women’s restroom fixtures will increase dramatically, from 44 to 68, while the number of men’s fixtures has increased from 33 to 52. Overall, restroom capacity is much larger in the renovated Music Hall and accessibility has been greatly improved. Family/unisex restrooms are being doubled, from two to four.
Library: The largest orchestra library in the world gets new, high density storage. Where scores were once spread out in several different locations throughout Music Hall, many of them unprotected, all of the precious music will now be safely housed in an efficient space that reclaims the true height of the first level backstage. The Library will hold together the collections for the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, Vocal Arts Ensemble, Classical Roots Community Mass Choir and the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Production/Performer Support: Updated dressing room areas will ensure the resident organizations can continue to attract the world’s top talent. Locker rooms for musicians will provide support with an updated male/female ratio. The orchestra pit will be made accessible for all musicians. State of the art audio, visual and technical equipment will be installed to support the highest level productions across all art forms.
Key Comparison Points
|3,417||2,263-2,524 (depending on the configuration)|
Auditorium seat width
|Range from 19 to 21 inches||20 to 23 inches|
Distance between rows
|Range from 33 to 35 inches||Range from 35 to 36 inches|
|Orchestra Level: 19 women’s, 17 men’s, 1 family/unisex
Balcony Level: 15 women’s, 8 men’s, 1 family/unisex
Gallery Level: 10 women’s, 8 men’s, 0 family/unisex
Total: 44 women’s, 33 men’s, 2 family/unisex .
|Orchestra Level: 30 women’s, 25 men’s, 2 family/unisex, 4 other
Balcony Level: 27 women’s, 19 men’s, 2 family/unisex
Gallery Level: 11 women’s, 8 men’s, 0 family/unisex
Total: 68 women’s, 52 men’s, 4 family/unisex, 4 other
|Escalator/elevators||2 outdated escalators between 1st & 2nd floors; 2 outdated escalators between 2nd & 3rd floors; 1 elevator serving auditorium levels||1 new, efficient escalator between 1st & 2nd floors; 1 new, efficient escalator between 2nd & 3rd floors (both with ability to switch directions); 2 new fast traction elevators serving all floors; 1 elevator serving auditorium levels; additional staircase added for required egress|
|Accessibility||Building constructed before Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); wheelchair navigation especially challenging between floors; most restrooms not accessible||Building fully meets all ADA requirements, with increased wheelchair accessible seating in prime locations; easier movement between floors; motorized wheelchair charging stations at some seat locations; new elevators give access to every floor|
|Concession points of sale||Orchestra Level: 5
Balcony Level: 3
Gallery Level: 0
|Orchestra Level: Up to 10
Balcony Level: Up to 6
Gallery Level: Up to 4
|Musician lockers||Men’s: 44
|Orchestra pit||1,135 square feet||2,310 square feet|
MUSIC HALL RENOVATION FACTS
The renovation project is putting Cincinnatians to work.
Music Hall is anticipated to generate 1,109 design and construction jobs as a result of this renovation project.
Music Hall’s renovation will be good for the region’s economic health.
According to a University of Cincinnati economic study, “combined annual operating expenditures and non-local visitor spending are expected to generate a total annual economic impact of $118.3 million. The operations will generate a total annual earnings impact of $38.9 million and 1,117 jobs in the local economy” following the renovation.
Acoustical consultant Akustiks is working comprehensively to ensure that Springer Auditorium retains its original acoustical brilliance.
The acoustic process has been meticulous, engaging the world’s foremost acousticians, the Orchestra’s artistic leadership and CSO musicians to not only protect the space, but improve the listening experience in all sections of Springer Auditorium. Tests have included the construction of a temporary stage, trying multiple tower and reflector positions while the full orchestra played, and an extensive evaluation by the acousticians on each level. The walls will be brought in on the first and second levels to make Music Hall’s natural sound more present, immersive and more evenly distributed to every seat in Springer Auditorium.
Springer Auditorium will have better sightlines and be more comfortable than ever.
Seats in the auditorium’s balcony and gallery levels are currently between 19 and 20 inches wide and the distance between those rows is cramped at only 33 inches. Following the renovation, those seats will increase to 20 to 23 inches wide and there will be 35 inches between rows, greatly enhancing the comfort. On the orchestra level, which already has 35 inches between rows, there will be 36 inches following the renovation.
While Music Hall’s footprint will not change, new space has been added.
Reclaimed from the massive two-story “paint/scene shop” that many decades ago hosted everything from professional boxing matches to University of Cincinnati basketball games, a new flexible rehearsal/event space is being created by cutting that room in half and making a second floor. This reclaimed space adjacent to the balcony level will have a high ceiling, exposed brick and its own lobby and restrooms. It will serve many purposes for the public including receptions and meetings, and also provide Music Hall’s resident arts organizations with an additional and much-needed rehearsal space.
Music Hall’s old carriage ways will be repurposed.
This grand old building was originally constructed with carriageways separating the Main Hall from the North and South halls, but it’s been quite some time since audience members arrived by horse-drawn carriage. These awkward, currently unused spaces will be captured and repurposed into new, comfortable restrooms off the North and South halls, a new first floor event space off the South Hall, and all-new, acoustically isolated mechanical systems.
The renovation will reveal lost architectural treasures within Music Hall.
In Corbett Tower, the drop ceiling has been removed and the original cove ceiling with stenciled pattern has been restored, adding 14 feet of height and creating a dramatic space. Corbett Tower will have beautiful new finishes, improved food and beverage service, a convenient catering service area, superior accessibility via new elevators, and the large windows overlooking Washington Park, once partially obstructed, are now completely open.
The largest orchestra library in the world gets new, high density storage.
Where scores were once spread out in several different locations throughout Music Hall, many of them unprotected, all of the precious music will now safely housed in an efficient space that reclaims the true height of the first level backstage. The Library will hold together the collections for the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, Vocal Arts Ensemble, Classical Roots Community Mass Choir and the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliancy is at the forefront of the renovation.
A special committee of local advocates helped to guide the renovation process specifically with mobility, vision and hearing impairment in mind. There will be more accessible restrooms, family/unisex restrooms, elevators, and even charging stations at designated wheelchair locations in the auditorium. A new personal assistive listening system will serve the hearing impaired. A great deal of thought has gone into making Music Hall a more welcoming space for the entire community.
The renovated Hall will include at least four new full service bars for concessions.
In addition, catering service areas have been upgraded for Corbett Tower and the Ballroom.
Overall, restroom capacity is increasing by nearly 62 percent in the renovated Music Hall and accessibility has been greatly improved.
Women’s restroom fixtures will increase from 44 to 68 and men’s restroom fixtures will increase from 33 to 52. Family/unisex restrooms are being doubled, from two to four.
The Saengerbund Singing Society constructs Saengerhalle at 14th & Elm, the future site of Music Hall.
The City of Cincinnati acquires Saengerhalle as a site for the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition.
Maria Longworth Nichols and her husband George Ward Nichols organize the first May Musical Festival. Acclaimed conductor Theodore Thomas conducted the performances in Exposition Hall.
Businessman and community leader Reuben R. Springer offers a matching gift of $125,000 to build new Music Hall (to be matched by $125,000 from other citizens with $50,000 offered later for addition of wings, to be matched two-to-one).
Civic leaders Julius Dexter, W. H. Harrison, T. D. Lincoln, Joseph Longworth, Robert Mitchell, John Shillito and Reuben Springer organize the Music Hall Association to build new the new hall.
Acclaimed Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford gets the contract to design Music Hall.
Exposition Hall (old Saengerhalle) is demolished to clear the site for new Music Hall.
As cost estimates increase for the construction, Reuben Springer adds a donation of $20,000 to the project.
Construction begins on new Cincinnati Music Hall on May 1.
The ''magnificent'' Music Hall opens the night of Tuesday, May 14th, with the May Festival chorus and with an orchestra of musicians of the New York Philharmonic and conducted by the renowned Theodore Thomas.
The College of Music opens on October 14 and is housed in Dexter Hall, the top floor of Music Hall. Theodore Thomas shocks New York society by leaving that city to become the College's first Musical Director.
Machinery Hall (North Wing) and Art Hall (South Wing) are added to complex, bringing total cost of the entire project to $446,000.
Electric lighting is introduced at Industrial Exposition in Music Hall.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is founded.
Renovation is completed for $100,000 to extend the stage into the audience area, add a proscenium arch, double the pitch of the floor, add permanent seating for 3,330 people, along with electric lighting and steam heat. The remodeled Music Hall was opened to the public on May 14 and was now ready for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The remodeling also made it possible to more easily accommodate opera and theatrical productions. In May, at the annual meeting of the Music Hall Association, it was decided that the auditorium would be known as Springer Hall.
The circular painting ''Allegory of the Arts,'' by Arthur Conrad Thomas, is installed in the center of the ceiling in Springer Auditorium.
New seating is installed in Springer Auditorium of Music Hall.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's board moves CSO performances to the recently-completed Emery Auditorium at the behest of Music Director Leopold Stokowski.
General plans for remodeling Music Hall are drawn up. $600,000 worth of improvements include transforming the north wing into a sports arena that could be converted into an exposition hall, and renovation of the south wing to contain an exposition hall and a hall for dances, dinners and conventions.
On May 26, the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Music Hall Association enter into an agreement whereby, for the sum of one dollar ($1.00), CMHA will own and, within three years, remodel Cincinnati Music Hall.
North and South Wings are expanded, including a new (Topper Club) Ballroom.
On October 11, the College of Music unveils a new three-story office and studio building and achieves the largest student enrollment in its history to date.
Topper Club (later called Music Hall Ballroom) opens in South Wing, with Egyptian decor complete with Sphinx.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra returns to Music Hall.
Music Hall is almost razed as a fire hazard, but is saved by general remodeling and upgrading to meet standards.
Music Hall serves as a clothing depot for the Red Cross and as a central warehouse for food supplies, to aid families affected by the 1937 flood.
The City of Cincinnati acquires title and responsibility for Music Hall.
A face lift begins for Music Hall.
Music Hall foyer is redecorated for first time since construction in 1878.
WCET, the nation's first licensed educational TV station, debuts from Dexter Hall (third floor of Music Hall).
Springer Auditorium receives general refurbishing in red, grey, off-white and gold.
Corbett Foundation, led by J. Ralph Corbett and Patricia Corbett, donates rebuilding of backstage area, leading off series of major improvements in Music Hall financed by Corbett donations in next 30 years.
Corbett Foundation finances further major renovations, including addition of offices for performing arts organizations, dressing rooms, Music Library, Green Room, seating, escalators, full-building air-conditioning, and Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers.
Music Hall is added to National Register of Historic Places.
Exterior of building is sandblasted (with 400 tons of sand over 60 days).
Corbett Foundation finances further major renovations, including new scenery shop and set storage area for opera and ballet, and new Corbett Tower on third floor (replacing Dexter Hall).
The Cincinnati Summer Opera moves from the Zoo to Music Hall.
New seating is installed in Main Auditorium as gift of Corbett Foundation.
Music Hall Association merges to form Cincinnati Arts Association for joint management of Music Hall and the new Aronoff Center for the Arts.
The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall is formally established as a volunteer support organization to help preserve and enhance the Hall.
The Corbett Foundation replaces seating in Springer (Main) Auditorium of Music Hall.
The Corbett Foundation finances refurbishing of Corbett Tower.
The Music Hall Ballroom enjoys major transformation into an elegant state-of-the-art, multi-purpose ballroom and meeting facility.
In October, the Cincinnati Opera moves into new headquarters, the Corbett Opera Center, located in Music Hall’s north side.
The Music Hall Revitalization Company is formed to oversee needed structural improvements to Music Hall.
In December, the City of Cincinnati and the Music Hall Revitalization Company reach an agreement on a lease of the building, paving the way for a major renovation.
A design team comprised of architectural firms PWWG and Martinez + Johnson, acoustical firm Akustiks and theater consultants Schuler Shook is selected in collaboration with Music Hall’s resident arts organizations.
Extensive acoustic testing is conducted by the renowned acoustical firm, Akustiks, in collaboration with CSO musicians and with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on stage in June.
Construction begins in backstage areas that summer.
The design concept is revealed publicly in February.