Photos: A new Orchestra Hall is ready — and waiting

A view of the new Orchestra Hall lobby looking east. The expansion doubles the size of the lobby, adds many accessibility features, and makes audience movement in and out of the hall easier (MPR photo/Jeff Thompson)
  1. Listen MPR’s Euan Kerr tours the newly renovated Minnesota Orchestra hall

    Sept. 12, 2013

The new Orchestra Hall is ready for business — whenever that may be possible given the current lockout of musicians for the Minnesota Orchestra.

Orchestra officials took media on a tour this morning to show off the results of the year-long $52 million renovation project.

There’s a lot of change that is easy to see, including a huge multi-level lobby. Overlooking Peavey Plaza is the new Target Atrium, which can function both as a meeting room and a performance space. It will be the new home of pre-concert talks, which until now have had to be held in the hall itself. The atrium also features large doors which can open the space onto the plaza outside.

Here’s a photo gallery from Orchestra Hall. The story continues below.

The building is now much more accessible, with an escalator and elevators. Its lobby is nearly double its original size and features huge windows looking out onto the street, with several seating areas and a number of bars so patrons can seek refreshment before, during and after concerts.

Also included in the renovations are many more bathrooms. There are improved backstage facilities for performers, with larger locker rooms and new practice rooms.

In the hall itself, there are almost 400 fewer seats, but they are now wider with more legroom.

“It’s an industry standard — except for the airlines,” Orchestra General Manager Bob Neu said with a laugh.

The auditorium also has a new color scheme, a soft gray as opposed to the sunset orange of the past.

There is a lot which is not apparent to the eye: a new sprinkler system, a new sound system, and a host of acoustic improvements onstage.

Neu said those these changes will not affect the audience listening experience, but will help address a longstanding concern of musicians by allowing players on the sides of the stage to better hear their colleagues on the other side.

The new Orchestra Hall is already being used for private functions: corporate meetings, and the burgeoning wedding business, New said.

There are also a number of non-orchestral concerts scheduled, including dates for VocalEssence and the Greater Twin Cities Your Symphony.

  • Ricardo

    Well. It’s as cozy and inviting as a bank lobby…

  • Guest

    Gee, what a nice hall. Too bad we don’t have an Orchestra for it

    • Ricardo

      Yes. The acoustics are marvelous…the silence is actually deafening.

  • MD

    Gee that’s odd… I thought orchestral halls were supposed to have orchestras…

  • emilySOTL

    Hmm, nobody seems to be mentioning that angry patrons will be demonstrating outside the hall if a contract isn’t reached in a few days. Those aren’t the kind of optics I’d want if I was a corporation renting out the place for a party…

  • akadams

    “There is a lot which is not apparent to the eye”…Wow, you got that right, Euan.
    The brass players are not apparent to the eye, nor any strings. Can’t see one solitary percussionist….scanning for signs of woodwinds.

  • RowSix

    A $52 million investment for an increase in revenue of $300,000/year? So it will pay for itself in 173 years? Who did the math on that one?

    • Sarah

      The banksters – you know, the ones who trashed the economy and then demanded bailouts. Now that’s financial “expertise”!

  • Sarah

    I hear that administration won’t be housed here – great idea, keep them even farther away from the musicians . . .

  • Rolf Erdahl

    A question about access — people may be able to move in and out of the hall more easily from the lobby, but aren’t there now actually fewer doors to get into and out of the building itself on the street level than there used to be? This, in addition to the loss of a front drive up make access actually harder for senior citizens and for the logistics of moving busloads of students in and out of the hall for Young People’s Concerts.