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Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Team

Benjamin Thompson & Associates, Architect; Cambridge, MA
Auerbach + Associates, Theatre Consultant; San Francisco, CA

Project Awards

1986 Minnesota Masonry Institute - Honor Award for Excellence in Masonry Design and Construction
1985 AIA Boston - 1st Honor Award Boston Exports Award Competition

Project Description

Although the Ordway Music Theatre, with its rich finishes and its obvious debt to the European opera house resembles many other recent theaters, at the time it was built it was a radical departure from the aesthetic of the ‘democratic modernist’ halls of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

The hall is a multi-purpose room with a proscenium and flytower, seating an audience of 1800. It is home to the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Opera and is used for a variety of other performances as well. The room’s walls are highly articulated sealed concrete, typically concealed behind wood grilles, with operable absorption between. The grilles were custom made with irregularly shaped and spaced vertical elements.

The orchestra shell is a single unit, moving on air casters and storing in a large niche at the back of the stage. This allows convenient changeovers and an elegant, architecturally finished shell. The orchestra pit uses multiple lifts to allow a variety of pit shapes, ranging in capacity from 50 to 70 musicians. Removable platforms allow a thrust stage.

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