Kimmel Center opens

January 1, 2002

The grand opening of the new Kimmel Center in Philadelphia occurred on December 14th 2001.

The center has two venues: the 2,500-seat concert hall, Verizon Hall, new home for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the multiform Perelman Theatre, a 620-seat recital hall and theatre.

Verizon Hall, with acoustics by Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants, is destined to be one of the great concert halls of North America. Its sophisticated acoustics and performance equipment, designed by Theatre Projects, includes a massive overhead acoustic canopy in three parts, adjustable acoustic banners and one hundred computer controlled doors that surround the entire hall to open out the volume to the reverberation chambers beyond. In addition the flexible stage is extensively equipped with coordinated suspension points, a full stage lighting with fibre optic data backbone and audio-visual equipment. The hall's versatility is demonstrated by the first month's program. This has included superstar Elton John performing with an extensive 'rock-and-roll' moving light rig, live and recorded video and a high sound pressure level reinforcement rig, the Philadelphia Orchestra and an ice show. The hall is the first to have extensive built in projection facilities that may be used as an adjunct to symphonic performances. The opening performance events were simulcast on public television nationally and on the web internationally.

The Perelman Theatre is a unique space. A courtyard theatre, in 'recital' mode the stage end of the room has a platform surrounded by three levels of audience galleries, providing an orchestra shell for chamber music and soloists—a miniature concert hall. In 'theatre' mode the entire stage end of the room revolves, the shell moves into a garage to the rear of the stage and exposes a 80 feet by 40 feet stage with flytower above, upon which a full set of scenery could be preset. The stage has a sprung floor supporting its major constituent, the modern dance company Philodanco. Furthermore the orchestra floor raked seating is located on a wagon that is in turn placed on an elevator. When lowered to the basement all the seating may be removed to provide a flatfloor throughout the hall. This creates a totally flexible space for arena, thrust or multiple stages, or a promenade space for experimental theatre, dance or music or social events, parties, cabaret, etc.

Theatre Projects was responsible for space programming of the building, overall theatre planning, design of the Perelman Theatre and seating, stage design and sightlines in Verizon Hall, as well as the design of all the performance facilities in both halls.

Theatre Projects Team

Architect: Rafael Vinoly

Acoustician: Artec Consultants

Kimmel Center opens
Credit: Rafael Viñoly Architects
Kimmel Center opens
Credit: Theatre Projects