NEW YORK - The Boston Conservatory's Hemenway Project involved the renovation of the existing 23,000 square foot main stage theatre, located at 31 Hemenway Street, and an additional 15,000 square feet on an adjacent vacant lot at 27 Hemenway. The new space, the first major facilities initiative for the institution in 50 years, creates a centerpiece for the intimate campus of this internationally renowned college offering degrees in music, dance and musical theatre.
Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, Performing Arts/Media Facilities Planning and Design, provided theatre and audio-video consulting for the project and collaborated with Handel Architects to reconfigure the existing 300-seat theatre, creating a new orchestra pit, modern seating with improved sightlines, new front of house lighting catwalks, enhanced backstage support facilities including shops, storage and dressing rooms, improved ADA accessibility, a new lighting and sound control booth and street level and upper level lobbies.
“This project represents a truly significant improvement to The Boston Conservatory's facilities and we were pleased to be able to participate in the effort,” said Principal in Charge, Steven Friedlander. “I designed an opera in the space many years ago when I was working as a theatre lighting designer in Boston. So, it was particularly enjoyable for me to collaborate on the renovation.”
The firm also designed new theatrical systems including motorized rigging, orchestra pit infill platforming, theatrical lighting and audio-video systems for the theatre which hosts all major performances by the Dance and Theater Divisions, as well as Music Division performances by the opera department, wind, percussion and brass ensembles and Hemenway Strings, the strings honors ensemble of accomplished students.
Project Manager Daniel Mei notes “One advantage in working on a renovation project like the Boston Conservatory is that the users who will be running the facility are already on staff. This gave us an opportunity to sit down early in the design process with the production staff and gather information about their â€˜wish list' of improvements to the facility and to the quality of their productions. We were then able to address many of their needs within the design of the overall project, the budget and existing building constraints.”
The 27 Hemenway Street addition includes two large dance studios, a theatre department studio, a music department rehearsal hall/performance space, classrooms and faculty offices.
The Boston Conservatory was founded in 1867 and is one of the nation's oldest performing arts schools offering undergraduate and graduate level training in music, dance and theatre.
ConfigurationAuerbach Pollock Friedlander provided theatre and audio-video consulting for the initial study, renovation and expansion of the existing theatre, dance and music department facilities. The Hemenway Project includes a renovated 300-seat proscenium theatre with a new orchestra pit, modern seating, improved sightlines, new front of house lighting catwalks, enhanced wing space, ADA upgrades, faculty offices, storage, shops, dressing rooms and lobbies. Additional spaces include three renovated dance studios and two new large dance studios, theatre department studio and orchestra rehearsal space.
Building InfrastructureCirculation paths and connections between the existing and new buildings support back stage and front of house needs with wheelchair access in the previously non-accessible facility. The HVAC systems are designed to handle cooling and heating loads associated with theatrical performances and to meet strict acoustic criteria. The electrical systems are designed to support installed systems and rental equipment, and K-rated transformers were installed for lighting and audio power. Studios are provided with empty conduit infrastructure to support future company switch power.
Theatrical LightingThe theatrical lighting system within the existing theatre includes three new dimmer racks for 288 total dimmed circuits, an Ethernet lighting network, a 1000-channel control console, as well as distribution and control devices. Digital lighting control is provided for the architectural lighting.
Theatrical RiggingThe theatre includes fifteen new motorized line sets with future accommodation for an additional fifteen (30 total), a motorized Braille fire curtain, orchestra pit infill platforming and stage draperies. New studios include fixed lighting pipe grids and mirror masking drapes.
Audio-Video SystemsThe theatre includes a sound reinforcement and playback system, wireless microphone system with RFV antenna distribution, lecture system, assistive listening system, production intercom, show program monitor and back of house paging and production video. The back of house program monitor/paging system allows students and staff to monitor activities within the theatre and provides communication between production staff and performers. Connection panels, cable pathways and technical power are provided to support performances and rehearsals. A digital sound mixing console is located within the control booth and a simple lecture system is available onstage to allow faculty to conduct classes and rehearsals without the need for a sound operator. Production video camera positions are located at the crossaisle and at the rear of the audience seating to allow archival recording of performances. Dance and rehearsal studios include sound playback system equipment racks and loudspeakers.