Atlanta Symphony Center

by | 22. Aug 2012

Cultural | Feature

Image courtesy Santiago Calatrava S.A.

The new Atlanta Symphony Center will provide the first dedicated concert hall and educational facility in the 60-year history of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble that enjoys international prominence under Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles.

The building, a key element in the evolving campus expansion of the Woodruff Arts Center, will create a vital civic and economic resource for Atlanta and an exciting, modern symbol of the State of Georgia.

Light and transparent, terraced in layout, Calatrava’s design enfolds generous expanses of glass and steel within gently curving shells of gleaming white concrete. Public areas in and around the building, notably a pair of light-filled lobbies, open onto landscaped plazas. The lower plaza provides an entrance for visitors who arrive by car. The upper, which serves as a public gathering place and lookout, connects the building to a ceremonial allée of trees via an elevated walkway.


Model photo: Thomas Watkins, courtesy ASO


It is a startling, beautiful creation, absolutely contemporary in its architecture and technology.
/Allison Vulgamore
President and Managing Director of the ASO

Rising from behind the structure, and then swooping down, are two “bent leaves” of delicate, lattice-like steel. The smaller of these marks a side entrance on a terrace. The larger, which tops the structure at 186 feet, gives dramatic definition to the building’s central axis. Adding dynamism to the design, the movable steel “wings” of a sunscreen will open and close over the soaring, glazed volume of the upper lobby.


Model photo: Thomas Watkins, courtesy ASO

The concert hall features a surround hall with vineyard-style seating. The audience configuration provides for an intimate-feeling 2,000 seats around the Orchestra (including 200 seats for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus). At the same time, the ceiling height can be varied for acoustical purposes, from 48 feet to 104 feet above the stage.

Two other performance spaces, a Rehearsal Hall and a Studio Hall, provide seating for 300-350 and 300 persons, respectively. A Learning Center, designed to engage people of all ages with the Orchestra, occupies 11,000 square feet of space.

Calatrava is the 2005 winner of the AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor given by the American Institute of Architects.


CITY Atlanta, Georgia