SVPA Architects, Interior Designer Theatre Projects Consultants, Theatre Consultant
The Des Moines Civic Center is a unique multi-purpose performing arts hall with 2,800 seats on one strongly raked level. The inward-leaning curved pylons of the side walls are a characteristic gesture of the original acoustician, Paul Veneklasen, and more than any other aspect of the room, they have defined the hall’s acoustics, well-regarded since its opening, but not without shortcomings.
KA was hired in 2013 to evaluate the room’s acoustics, with particular focus on improving the sound for the resident Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. After developing a full menu of possible improvements, KA worked with the owner and users to prioritize these sub-projects. Ultimately three were implemented – a new orchestra shell, echo control treatments at the side walls, and a complete reconstruction of the hall’s rear wall. The improvement has been dramatic – greater presence and impact, better hearing conditions for the musicians, and a sound for the audience that is more reverberant, warmer, and clearer.