Sail away at Bing Concert Hall

11 Feb 2013

Yasuhisa Toyota, Richard Olcott/Ennead Architects' Bing Concert Hall opens in California to rapturous applause

Opened in the New Year, Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall has been designed by Richard Olcott/Ennead Partners with Dr. Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics and Fisher Dachs Associates. The first performances on 11-13 January 2013 were sold out at the California campus with all 842 seats at the vineyard-style concert hall snapped up by lovers of performing arts.

The multi-disciplinary team has completed a highly technical concert facility which enables Stanford University to host a number of different performances, teach its students in world-class facilities and entertain guests in generous light-rich venues.

A cavernous main concert hall is coupled with a studio/rehearsal hall, artists’ suites, a music library, instrument storage rooms which double as practice rooms, and a number of public amenities. Intelligent design ensures that the practice rooms can be used at the same time as the concert hall as the latter is acoustically isolated and the rehearsal hall incorporates variable acoustic curtains.

Of the design of the central concert hall, Ennead Partners explains: “Nestled within a 12-inch-thick concrete enclosure, the Hall is acoustically isolated from exterior sounds. The oval-shaped room is designed for optimal acoustics from every seat in the house, with the furthest seat only seventy-five feet from the conductor. The vineyard style configuration, whose terraced seating sections ring the stage, creates an intimate concert experience, a warm and rich environment for audience and performers.

“Low walls embracing each seating section are angled and articulated with beech wood, whose specific density and textured surface strategically reflect and disperse sound. The stage has six moving platforms and is built of yellow Alaskan cedar selected for its softness and acoustical properties. Contrasting with the material quality of the patron and performer level of the hall are the sail walls and ceiling cloud, whose lighter tones imbue the upper region of the hall with an uplifting quality. The large, sculptural, convex-shaped sails surround the seating defining the hall’s volume."

The drum-shaped concert hall is surrounded by open lobby spaces which are naturally-lit thanks to wide expanses of glass windows. Daylight pours into the lobby area through these vast windows and light wells, illuminating the interior in the most sustainable fashion. This design feature also looks to blur the boundary between interior and exterior, coupled with a full-height sliding curtain wall which opens the façade to exterior colonnades.

Public space can be found throughout this sensitively-designed project with entrances on the north, west and south sides enabling easy access to external areas. To the south guests will find a sizeable terrace for open-air functions and towards the north is a smaller, more intimate terrace for performers.

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