Boston’s landmark Symphony Hall, designed by McKim Mead and White in 1901, is recognizing the urgencies of greater engagement with the community, expanded audiences, and the integration of new media, technology, to support innovation in musical performance.

The 2000 seat Hall, and its facilities for musicians and patrons, and two contiguous properties provide exceptional opportunities for cultural reimagination. Design interventions at Symphony Hall can reimagine its resources, expand its relevance, and strengthen its mission. The adjacent full block site provides exceptional opportunities for cultural, community, educational, and residential uses. This combination of building renewal, adaptive reuse, and fresh, new design would radically re-energize the urban texture, the arts community, and the Halls civic relevance.

The studio will explore opportunities relevant to many performance halls nationally and internationally. The studio welcomes design vision, insight, and innovation.

Studio research includes precedents, program, the urban condition, and response to a national landmark. Each studio member develops an architectural program, new construction and renovation strategy, site massing options, and interior and exterior design expression. Participants track research, methodology, and design evolution in and document and communicate approaches and progress.

The studio will emphasize both individual and group work and communications—verbal, written, graphic, to professionally convey the studios range of planning and design approaches.

Studio Structure

The studio will include expert lecturers on performing arts, urban design, community development, building technology, and communications. Project research, site analysis, programming, and case studies will be developed individually and in groups. Using a single site model base, participants will each develop three initial massing options, then move to a preferred option, articulating and illustrating program, analysis, design, so that a portfolio emerges.

Tools for conveying process and ideas through graphics and presentations are emphasized.

Field Trips

At the semester outset, the studio will visit the Yale School of Music’s Sprague Hall and Yale Humanities Quadrangle, and other Yale adaptive use and expansion projects.

The studio visits Boston Saturday January 21 to assess the BSO site, existing buildings, program opportunities, and precedents. Tours of the BSO and adjacent arts buildings are confirmed; the BSO has also invited us to a Saturday evening performance.

February’s weeklong trip visits Chicago, home of music, performance, and design legacy writ large, for an overarching view how design and cultural leadership moves the city forward.

Chicago’s itinerary examines urban planning, adaptive re use, and design: meeting with the City of Chicago’s Director of Planning and Design; sessions at the University of Chicago and IIT (works by Mies, Koolhaas, Vinoly, et al.); sessions at the Chicago Architecture Center, a home of design advocacy; meeting architect-citizen Carol Ross Barney FAIA, 2022 AIA Gold Medalist; mixed use developments, a day trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax building paired with Fortaleza Hall, designed by Foster + Partners; and the Santiago Calatrava designed Milwaukee Art Museum, plus an on-site hard hat tour of the Obama Presidential Library.

In downtown Chicago, Columbia College faculty and students have invited us to a collaborative studio session—a Yale/Columbia students design ideas exchange.

Studio Faculty

Ann M. Beha FAIA will lead the studio and be in New Haven all Thursdays through Friday midday, and by zoom or in New Haven Mondays. YSOA Senior Critic George Knight AIA, will collaborate with Ann and be in the studio twice a week.

Confirmed studio guest lecturers include the past CEO of the Boston Symphony, now an international advisor to performing arts organizations; a senior Landscape Architect/Planner, addressing urban conditions; the Senior Policy Director of the Fenway Community Development Corporation; and a specialist in technical design for Theater/Performing Arts. To bolster professional communications, Malcolm Reading RIBA, and Catherine Reading, London-based international design competition and architect-selection advisors, will discuss tools and methods—and strategies– to convey design intent.

The intent is a fully professional and wide ranging response to a unique urban and cultural setting—a design exploration that creates voice and vision for the arts through both existing and new design.