The Town of Cary, in cooperation with the North Carolina Symphony and the Regency Park office park, had produced a very successful summer music series for many years, attracting an audience that had grown from several hundred initially to many thousands. The performances were held in a simple tent structure erected over a makeshift stage with a flat concrete floor. The site was ideal, overlooking a lake, within a mature forest, with quiet ambient noise levels and adequate parking associated with the surrounding office buildings. Architects William Rawn Associates worked with Kirkegaard to design a striking new amphitheater on this beautiful site.
The new Koka Booth Amphitheatre comfortably accommodates popular music performers, but was designed with the North Carolina Symphony as a primary user. The stage is sized to match the Meymandi Concert Hall in the Duke Energy Center that Kirkegaard designed for the nearby city of Raleigh. The most striking aspect of the new structure is the glass roof system that functions as the acoustical canopy to support on-stage hearing for the musicians. It also serves as a technical level for performance lighting and sound systems, which are suspended within a tension wire grid system. The upstage area can accommodate a full chorus and can be reconfigured to accommodate a pit orchestra.
Star, conductor and orchestra/chorus dressing rooms are located backstage on two levels. A large basement provides storage for the orchestra riser system during the winter months as well as housing technical rooms for the dimming system and audio racks. A large piano lift provides easy access between the stage and storage area below.
The audio system for the facility includes a left-center-right loudspeaker system that is located along the front edge of the overhead canopy system, with delay clusters serving the lawn seating and VIP seating area called “The Crescent.”