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Orchestra Hall

The O'ShaughnessyLocated on the Nicollet Mall and adjacent to a beautiful public plaza, Orchestra Hall is an architectural landmark in downtown Minneapolis. The Hall - with its open glass structure and whimsical blue tubes - was designed to offer concert goers a warm, welcoming ambiance and acoustical perfection.

Orchestra Hall was constructed on the site of the former Lyceum Theater, where the Minnesota Orchestra performed from 1905 to 1930. The Hall was designed by Cyril Harris and when it opened its doors in 1974, a new era in arts and entertainment in the Upper Midwest began.

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Orchestra HallThe acoustically-acclaimed concert hall quickly became a major performance center. Orchestra Hall is particularly renowned for its acoustics with each design feature carefully planned to enhance the warmth and richness of sound in the space. Over 100 large cubes form a "falling rock" pattern on the auditorium ceiling. These blocks provide hundreds of surfaces that deflect sound, making Orchestra Hall among the most acoustically perfect theaters in the nation. The cubes were added for sound reasons, but have visual appeal as well. The wood floor and stage allow for better sound vibration, and the angle of the balconies offers optimal reflection of sound. The exterior of the building is remarkable for its large, blue ventilation ducts. Their unusual size was chosen to reduce air velocities and hence noise.

In actuality, Orchestra Hall consists of two buildings: a rectangular-shaped auditorium, and a glass and steel supporting structure housing the lobby and administrative office that is separated from the auditorium by a one-inch gap to free the concert hall from any outside sound. The result is an acoustically brilliant space, designed for a superb concert going experience.

Since Orchestra Hall opened in 1974, as many as 10 million people have passed through its doors to attend more than 4,000 concerts. The modern look of the Hall, with its simple lines and glass, brick and steel exterior, offered a marked departure from the old-world opulence of many concert halls. It was designed to emphasize the concert experience rather than the building itself. "Part of the magic is that the building was designed to deformalize concert-going," explains architect Hugh Hardy. Orchestra Hall features a ring of open "tiers" in the concert hall and a series of colorful flying bridges in the lobby to bring people together.

The Orchestra Hall lobby opens up to Peavey Plaza, a city-owned park that features angular waterfalls and a beautiful reflecting pool. Orchestra Hall becomes a community focal point in the summer, when the Orchestra's summer music festival spills outdoors onto the Plaza. During the winter, Peavey Plaza is home to a glittering ice skating rink and an ideal vantage point from which to watch the Holidazzle Parade in December.

The minimalist auditorium, which seats over 2,500, has a large main floor with three balconies symmetrically surrounding it. The main floor seats 1,590 and another 983 can be seated in the balcony tiers. You can hear from anywhere--but the view from the back rows of the third-tier balcony is not ideal.

The unique building design, both inside and out, make Orchestra Hall a fun place to attend a show. The excellent acoustics will satisfy even the most finicky ear. Orchestra Hall continues to be a truly grand existence in downtown Minneapolis and a must attend for both locals and visitors alike.

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