Music Hall: What do we know about the plans?

Well, it’s been about a month since we’ve had any news about the Music Hall plans. Here’s what we learned on Sept. 14:

Two architectural firms will be dividing the work in Music Hall, which is actually three separate buildings, including a world-renowned concert hall. They are Martinez + Johnson Architecture, based in Washington, D.C., whose historic performing arts projects have included the Boston Opera House and Peabody Opera House in St. Louis; and Pittsburgh-based Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel (PWWG), known for projects involving historic rehabilitation, preservation and adaptive use. In Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh architecture firm teamed with nonprofit developer 3CDC to reinvent the former Metropole Hotel as the 21C Museum Hotel.

And we were introduced to the new acoustical consultant, Paul Scarbrough, a principal of Akustiks. He led the design of the highly-praised Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville and has a good track record in other projects (notably Cleveland’s Severance Hall).

We learned that the walls of the theater will move inward (actually false walls will be built in front of the originals). And that about 1,000 seats will be removed.

And that the balconies will be made steeper to allow for the sightlines that will be affected when the stage is thrust out.

Above is a rough sketch, where one can see the three elevators for the stage. In addition, there appears to be a generous cross-aisle.

But there are still unanswered questions. Such as, what materials are being used to rake the floors? And will the stage floor be rebuilt or altered? I am thinking of other major projects, such as Carnegie Hall, which had to be redone because concrete had been used under the historic stage, and the result was acoustically problematic. Chris Blair, of Akustiks, notes another such case in his excellent article for the website, Adaptistration, here.

I’ve been hearing other questions from the general public, too. Do you have questions about the upcoming renovation? if so, post them here, on Facebook, or e-mail me at

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to report more news about the project details soon.

Enquirer file Music Hall beat three northeast Ohio projects for a $25 million historic tax credit. The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran Music Hall was left out of the proposed quarter-cent sales tax that Hamilton County commissioners voted to put on the ballot. Music Hall on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine was built in 1878. Enquirer file Music Hall is one of four major rehabilitation projects statewide that are vying for a new $25 million award through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Music Hall was left out of the proposed quarter-cent sales tax that Hamilton County commissioners voted to put on the ballot. The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran “Under private ownership, Music Hall went bankrupt in 1939, during the Great Depression,” Mayor John Cranley says. “Despite the financial hardship, the city bought the building and assumed ownership in 1941.” The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran Music Hall on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine was built in 1878. It, like Union Terminal, needs major renovations. Enquirer file OLD JEWELS MUSIC HALL Friday August 26, 2011 METRO OVER-THE-RHINE As part of the renovation, seating will change from a capacity of 3,500 to somewhere in the 2,000-2,400 range. The plan is for seats will be larger, have more aisle space, have a better view, as well as be ADA compliant. The gallery seating, which now has a steep grade, will be changed to lower the grade. Cincinnati Music Hall, photographed in the morning. Music Hall is looking to undergo major enhancements and upgrades. The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran


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