Acoustics: Nagata Acoustics America Inc
Theater: Fisher Dachs Associates
Sound Isolation/Noise Control: Robert F. Mahoney & Associates
Structural Engineering: Degenkolb Engineers
Mechanical/Plumbing: Taylor Engineering
Geotechnical: Cornerstone Earth Group
Civil Engineering: Wilsey Ham
Electrical Engineering: The Engineering Enterprise
Landscape Architects: Office of Cheryl Barton
Sustainability: Atelier Ten
The Bing Concert Hall exemplifies the seamless integration of architecture, acoustics and technology with the goal of transforming the practice, study and experience of the performing arts at Stanford. Home to Stanford Live and the University’s Music Department and providing a state-of-the-art venue for visiting performers and student artists, the building integrates performance and curriculum for students while engaging the greater Bay Area community. The program – the central element of which is an 842-seat vineyard style concert hall – includes a studio/rehearsal hall, artists’ suites, a music library, instrument storage rooms designed to double as practice rooms, an artists’ lounge and generous public amenities.
The concert hall meets the highest acoustical standards: its primary function is to accommodate unamplified musical performances. To support Stanford Live, which brings a variety of artists to campus, including jazz, spoken word, experimental musicians and performers, as well as Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), state-of-the-art lighting, variable acoustics, sound reinforcement, video projection, simulcast, and mixing and recording technologies are incorporated.
The site design reinforces the balance between the arcadian quality of the Stanford Arboretum and the ordered axiality of the campus grid. The concert hall is a critical element of the campus Arts District, which includes the McMurtry Building for the Department of Art and Art History, Cantor Arts Center, Anderson Collection at Stanford University, Frost Amphitheater, Memorial Auditorium, Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery and a collection of inspiring sculpture in the Arboretum. The western edge of the site is bounded by Lasuen Street, and the building defines the eastern terminus to Museum Way, corresponding to the Cantor Arts Center across Palm Drive in the west. Architecture and landscape create an integrated series of gathering spaces to the north, west and south, fully engaging the setting. The building is porous on these sides, maximizing its connection to the outdoors and to campus circulation. On the south, a terrace is designed to accommodate event functions. On the north, a more intimate terrace for performers overlooks a generous clearing preserved for large outdoor events.
The heart of the building is the concert hall, which occupies an oval drum that is encircled by an irregularly- shaped lobby. In the west, a spacious forecourt plaza invites patrons to the entry portico and into the lobby. A transitional space between the lush planted surroundings and the inward-focused concert hall, the lobby provides both physical and visual porosity to the exterior and offers a variety of possibilities for both formal and informal pre- and post-performance gatherings. Daylight fills the lobby from all sides, and light wells strategically placed around the drum and the 19-foot-high glass and aluminum curtain wall blur the distinction between inside and out. Full-height sliding sections of the curtain wall open the facade to exterior colonnades, which are a contemporary expression of a traditional Stanford typology.
Nestled within a 12-inch-thick concrete enclosure, the Hall is acoustically isolated from exterior sounds. The oval-shaped room is designed for optimal acoustics from every seat in the house, with the furthest seat only seventy-five feet from the conductor. The vineyard style configuration, whose terraced seating sections ring the stage, creates an intimate concert experience, a warm and rich environment for audience and performers. Each seating section has a unique and intimate feel, particularly the center-section seating, which begins at the same level as the stage. Low walls embracing each seating section are angled and articulated with beech wood, whose specific density and textured surface strategically reflect and disperse sound. The stage has six moving platforms and is built of yellow Alaskan cedar selected for its softness and acoustical properties.
Contrasting with the material quality of the patron and performer level of the hall are the sail walls and ceiling cloud, whose lighter tones imbue the upper region of the hall with an uplifting quality. The large, sculptural, convex-shaped sails surround the seating defining the hall’s volume. These acoustic reflectors are carefully shaped and angled to provide optimal acoustic reflection or absorption. The sails not only serve the acoustics and provide architectural expression but have been designed as screens for video projection.
Forty-eight feet above the stage floats a double-curved ceiling reflector, which houses and carefully disguises most of the technical lighting, rigging and sound support equipment. All wall and ceiling reflectors have been constructed to meet specific density requirements, and their surface articulation assists in deflecting sound. Between the sails, variable acoustic curtains allow for tuning the room to better accommodate performances that include amplified sound.
The studio/rehearsal hall and general support program for the building are located on the north side of the concert hall. Acoustically isolated from the concert hall to allow simultaneous use, the studio/rehearsal hall is outfitted with variable acoustic curtains to allow acoustic tuning and a flexible pipe grid to accommodate a variety of performance types.
Bing Concert Hall is a major milestone of the Stanford Arts Initiative, a university-wide effort to place the arts at the heart of a Stanford education. The Hall will allow Stanford students from all disciplines to experience the performing arts at an unparalleled level and to bring a new level of professionalism to their own performance practice. New courses integrating the performances at Bing will create curricular connections, and the excellence of the performance environment will attract audiences from throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Serving as a hub for students, faculty, and the community, the Hall will launch a new era in the performing arts at Stanford.