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Baldwin Auditorium at Duke University Chrisopher Payne Photography

Baldwin Auditorium at Duke University

A recent renovation has transformed Duke University's Baldwin Auditorium into an acoustical gem.

Baldwin Auditorium re-opened with a gala performance of the new Concert Hall on September 14, 2013, following a two-year renovation.  Located on the East Campus of Duke University in Durham, NC, the 42,000-gross square foot building underwent a $15 million renovation that remodeled the auditorium, enlarged the performance platform, introduced comprehensive ADA access, upgraded the public spaces, highlighted the formerly-obscured domed ceiling, replaced all the mechanical systems, and installed all new performance equipment.  Baldwin Auditorium was originally constructed in the late 1920s.  The building is prominently located at the end of the Georgian-style East Campus Quad and features an iconic Jeffersonian dome on the four-square Georgian brick and stone building. 

The overriding challenge of the project that was addressed by the design team was to enlarge the concert stage, significantly improve the acoustics, narrow the acoustically-problematic wide auditorium, and improve the public lobby experience, while maintaining the original seat count of approximately 800 seats.  The room was fundamentally reshaped by narrowing the room with new side walls and introducing side box seating at the balcony level.  The new side walls that reduce the width of the room allowed the monumental side wall windows to remain functional as well as adding much needed lobby and circulation space.  The new acoustical shell and canopy were added in a contrasting wood material to remain distinct from the original articulated plaster walls.  A unique element of the design is the supply of air to the performance platform via 75,000 small holes drilled through the platform floor that diffuse the air from an understage air plenum.  The resulting concert hall design has been highly acclaimed by the University, audience members and performers, with special recognition of the greatly enhanced aesthetics and greatly improved acoustics. 

The performance and architectural dimming and controls were provided by ETC and include a Sensor 3 dimmer/relay rack, Ion 1500 Console and Unison Paradigm architectural control.  The infrastructure includes a Lyntec LPC 40-circuit DMX-controlled motorized breaker panel and SSRC company switches.  The instrument package includes 32 Selador 11” and 21” fixtures used for platform downlights and an additional 30 ETC Source4 ellipsoidals.  Acoustical adjustment devices include motorized vertical sidewall banners and curtains provided by Texas Scenic with motorized drapery tracks by Thern / Hall Stage.  The graphical user interface provided by Texas Scenic provides intuitive control and visual feedback for multiple room acoustic configurations.

The Meyer speaker system consists of self-powered speaker components to avoid a separate conditioned amplifier room, which would not have fit easily within the building’s footprint.  Two demountable line array units are suspended on chain motors.  Meyer fill speakers are hidden in the front of the stage as well as in the box seats and over the balcony.  The main processing equipment is located in the control / projection booth, including the Midas X32 digital console.  Additional equipment includes a Clearcom communications system, a Listen Technology ALS system, and Lyntec power distribution.

Equipment List

  • ETC Sensor3 Dimmer Rack
  • ETC Ion 1500 Console with 2x20 Fader Wing
  • Unison Paradigm architectural control
  • Lyntec LPC 40-circuit DMX-controlled motorized breaker panel
  • SSRC company switches
  • ETC Selador 11” and 21” LED Lustr+ and Pearl fixtures
  • ETC Source4 ellipsoidals
  • LEX Products Cabling devices
  • Meyer speaker system
  • Midas X32 digital console
  • Clearcom communications system
  • Listen Technology ALS system
  • Lyntec power distribution

Design Team

  • Architect:  Pfeiffer Partners
  • Acoustician:  Jaffe Holden
  • Theatre Consultant:  Theatre Consultants Collaborative
  • MEP Engineer:  RMF Engineering
  • Architectural Lighting Designer:  Cline Bettridge Bernstein
  • Cost Management:  Construction Cost Systems
  • Construction Management:  LeChase Construction Services
  • Duke University: represented by project director Ray Walker


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