Harry Teague Architects; Aspen, CO
Birdair, Inc., Tensioned Membrane Manufacturer; Amherst, NY
Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, Theatre Consultant, San Francisco, CA
The Benedict Music Tent is a performance facility at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado. This 2050-seat space was designed primarily for music performance and rehearsal for groups including large symphony orchestra (110+ musicians), orchestra with chorus, chamber orchestra and recital. The octagonal geometry of the audience seating area was retained from an original tent, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1949. The central section of seating is partially surrounded by five steeply raked seating sections covering more than 180 degrees. The stage geometry was changed from the original tent to better accommodate full orchestra and eliminate focusing conditions off the previously curved up-stage wall.
The acoustic design of the facility is based on providing massive construction around the stage and above a portion of the audience seating area to balance against the relatively lightweight material of the high-tensile structure. The construction of the stage includes: walls of 12” thick grout-filled masonry with a wood finish system directly applied; floor and riser system of a thick, resiliently supported plywood and tongue-and-groove wood floor system over concrete or 4”x 6” wood support members; and ceiling of laminated 4” thick tongue-and-groove structural wood system.
The construction of the tent at the audience area is unique due to the introduction of a solid roof above the center of the seating area. This roof, constructed of tongue-and-groove structural wood (similar to the stage ceiling construction) and heavy laminated glass, retains low frequency energy and sustains reverberant sound energy.
Reflectors of canvas are used over the stage and audience seating area to provide clarity of sound in the large space while matching the architectural character of the tent. A system of operable louvers, located at the perimeter of the seating, can be opened or closed to alter the acoustic condition within the tent, provide view to the exterior and sound to seating on the exterior lawn, and protect the interior from the elements.