St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to Renovate Powell Hall
The 98-year-old concert hall will undergo a refurbishment of over $100 million, including a 65,000-square foot expansion
Initially built as a movie theater in 1925, Powell Hall has been the permanent home of Missouri's St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) since 1968 when the venue received its first major renovation. In 2001, the hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2019, a design team was assembled for the hall’s upcoming renovation project, where construction will begin this Spring in time for a reopening in 2025, which will also mark the centennial of the theater.
To accommodate the renovation, SLSO will complete its current season in May 2023 at Powell Hall, before taking its 2023/24 concert season to venues across the community, including the Touhill Performing Arts Center and Stifel Theatre.
Planned changes to the hall will see it transformed into a community-focused music center to enhance the experience of audiences and artists alike. The expansion of the venue will also include a new grand lobby and more backstage areas.
Major additions to the space include a 3,400-square foot education and learning center, which will serve as rehearsal space for the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, IN UNISON Chorus, and St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. The center will also host education programs, lectures, and events, and help develop partnerships and collaborations.
Additionally, to create a more intimate setting, the venue will see a reduction in capacity from 2,683 to 2,150 seats, which will be larger and ensure greater accessibility. To enhance venue acoustics, soundproofing and isolation measures will also be implemented.
The project team is being led by internationally acclaimed architectural firm Snøhetta, Christner Architects, theater planning consultant Schuler Shook, acoustics design firm Kirkegaard, and construction management providers BSI Constructors.
“This is an exciting chapter in the SLSO's history,” said the orchestra’s president and CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard. “The project will improve every aspect of the audience and artist experience and will better support our mission as performers and educators, enriching lives through the power of music and fostering a sense of belonging for everyone,” Bernard continued. “We will preserve the history of Powell Hall while also creating a hub for community, innovation, and powerful music experiences.”
“Ever since I first collaborated with our fabulous orchestra almost 20 years ago, I have been amazed by Powell Hall's incredibly warm acoustics, its distinct sound depth,” added Stéphane Denève, SLSO’s music director. “This great venue has a unique character and I always feel its beautiful soul while rehearsing or performing on stage. I am so excited by the renovation and expansion of our home. It will enhance all we love about Powell Hall, and I can't wait to engage with our wonderful community in a space that is even more welcoming for all.”
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SLSO was established in 1880 by Joseph Otten and is the nation’s second-oldest orchestra. Formerly created as a choral group, a symphony soon formed over many years and became known as the St. Louis Symphony Society in 1907. The orchestra now performs around 120 concerts per season and is instrumental to St Louis’s arts and culture.