With more than 20% of Nazareth College’s students pursuing music degrees and a rapidly growing enrollment, the school needed a new facility for their aspiring musicians. Working with SWBR Architects and Acoustic Distinctions, Theatre Projects designed the new Jane and Laurence Glazer Music Performance Center in Rochester, New York to meet the school’s vision for an intimate, acoustically flexible, and engaging venue.
The centerpiece of the new 35,500 square foot facility—the Rose Marie and John Beston Hall—is a delightful 550-seat concert hall offering a welcoming setting for student performances and lectures as well as symphony orchestras, full chamber and choral groups, and amplified touring acts. At first glance, the room design looks strikingly simple, with clean aesthetics and single-level seating on a gentle rake, but it’s packed full of surprises—giving it the infrastructure and flexibility needed for varied programming and future growth opportunities.
To achieve this flexibility, we designed four motorized battens over the stage and six catwalks across the hall. Wooden acoustic panels are positioned across the ceiling, concealing the catwalks, and adjustable draperies were placed on the side walls, fine-tuning the hall’s acoustics for each performance type. As an audience member, you’d never notice those details—your focus is firmly on the performance and the sense of energy within the room—but as a user of the space, it’s clear that this room was designed to offer a range of options in a robust, intuitive, and user-friendly environment.
“You’d never guess, looking at the building, that it only cost $15 million,” said Jim Niesel, project manager. “It’s a beautiful facility that will serve the department exceptionally well for a long time. The quality of the hall is a credit to the design team and the architect’s strategic approach.”
Cost-efficient, client-appropriate, and forward-looking choices were key considerations that guided the building design from start to finish. The project had a modest budget, tight schedule, and a constrained building site, so the design team worked closely together to solve these challenges through creative design. Steel frames and pre-cast concrete was selected as the most appropriate solution for the building’s exoskeleton, speeding up construction time, reducing the amount of concrete poured on site, and helping deliver the project on schedule and under budget. In addition, we designed the auditorium’s stage and seating at ground level, eliminating the need for elevators in the building and saving significant costs in design and operation. We also put careful consideration into every area of the auditorium’s infrastructure and technology to ensure it has all the technical capabilities needed for today’s users, but room to expand as the programming and the music departments grow.
“We understand how performances work. We know that sometimes unexpected things happen, and it’s the big-picture and minute details that make a concert hall or theatre function well—not just for the performers and staff, but for everyone,” Jim continues. “We designed the Glazer Center to be very usable and very versatile—I’m sure the college will put it through its paces.”
To that end, the building’s power, technology, and audiovisual infrastructure was deliberately simplified to create accessible and convenient control positions. By minimizing on-stage floor boxes—combining lighting and audiovisual conduits—we made it easier to adjust settings. And by creating cable passes that lead to backstage audiovisual receptacles—in place of typical floorbox controls—technicians can adjust audiovisual, lighting, and other performance-related elements without crawling under a baseboard with a flashlight between their teeth. Now, a dead mic can be re-patched backstage even during a live performance.
The concert hall features energy-efficient, all-LED performance lighting, state-of-the-art audiovisual systems, and projection capability. Support spaces include a control room, percussion room, two practice rooms, and a rehearsal room—all of which provide support for student practices or pre-performance staging.
The September 2018 grand opening of the Glazer Center put the concert hall’s elegance and capability on full display. Nazareth alumnus and Emmy-winning composer, Jack Allocco, conducted the College Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and Jazz Ensemble through a piece he wrote specifically for the event. With more than 100 performers on stage, the audience was given a small sample of the excitement and energy the concert hall will offer for many years to come.