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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Ellie Caulkins Opera House At The Quigg Newton Auditorium in Denver

 
March 29th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

Working closely with Denver’s Division of Theatres and Arenas, SEMPLE BROWN DESIGN considered many options before launching the final concept for the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The firm had been in discussions with the City as early as 1993, trying to solve this unique puzzle. To begin the design process, members of the firm first considered the state of the old Auditorium Theatre and the needs of the people and organizations that would eventually use the new theatre.

Opera House

Opera House

  • Architect: Semple Brown Design, P.C.
  • Total Size: 280,000 square feet
  • Total Cost: $92.0 m Total
  • Completion: September 2005
  • Theatre Design: Peter Lucking
  • Project Architect: Bryan Schmidt, LEED AP, AIA
  • Interior Design Principal: Mary Kay Sunset, LEED AP, ASID
  • Associate Architect: Luis O. Acosta
  • Client: City and County Of Denver, Theatres and Arenas
  • Photography: Ron Pollard
  • Software used: 3-D Studio Viz to prepare preliminary client & donor presentations; AutoCAD was use for the construction documents.

Main Lobby

One of the most difficult challenges facing the construction team was demolishing the interior of the building while leaving the historic exterior in tact.

Balcony View

Balcony View

Following asbestos abatement, demolition began on the building’s interior structure. Seven sets of paired columns that support seven full-span trusses and portions of the roof were saved. As excavation proceeded, bracing was added to make sure the exterior walls did not collapse and construction began as soon as possible. The original trusses were reinforced to support a new roof and fly tower. Construction occurred vertically, slowly building up from the foundation.

Galleria Exterior View

For the first time in fifty years, the exterior windows were opened, allowing the public to see inside from the street.

Arriving in the lobby, one senses the volume of the space. The eye is drawn from the central entrances to the sides and the majestic sweep of the grand staircase. For practical reasons, this helps direct patrons to circulation points and services such as the main lobby bars and the restrooms. The curves of the space also create a sense of drama in the lobby.

Chambers Grant Salon

Chambers Grant Salon

The architecture is designed to be timeless – there are no trendy colors. The finishes are really very simple and honest. The design team intended for the patron to be the person on show in the lobby.

Main Level Stairway

Inspired by many of the world’s greatest opera houses such as La Scala or the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House is designed with a classic lyric format. This design allowed the builders to make the best use of the limited space available while striving to create a theatre focused on audience comfort and outstanding sightlines and acoustics. But while the team chose an elegant and classic style, the hall also features many distinctive innovations.

2nd Level Walkway

2nd Level Walkway

The Ellie Caulkins Opera House features the Figaro System, individual screens at each seat that have the ability to translate the dialogue on stage in up to seven languages.

The slope of the balconies toward the stage, the ziggurat walls on each side, the curves on the front of the side balconies and the vertical volume of the space are all designed to enhance the natural sound of the hall. Moveable walls within the orchestra pit adjust to the size of the orchestra and serve as sound reflectors, a design advance unique to this facility.

2nd level - original steel beam

2nd level - original steel beam

All lines in the theatre direct one’s attention to the stage. The designers wanted to create a relationship between the performer and audience. The farthest seat in the hall is only 113 feet from the stage, twenty-four feet closer to the stage than in the old theatre.

In addition to serving the needs of the audience, the opera house is also designed to serve the needs of the performer. SEMPLE BROWN DESIGN created backstage spaces designed to make performers comfortable and at ease. The facility is humidified to protect fragile instruments and fragile voices. The off-stage areas feel like a home with comfortable areas to read or roomy dressing rooms that can accommodate a full-sized Bösendorfer piano for rehearsals and warm-ups. In addition to the front of the house, all backstage areas are fully wheelchair accessible.

 

Balcony Level Floor Plan

Balcony Level Floor Plan

The technical abilities of the new opera house are extraordinary. The new fly tower is 110 feet high from stage floor to grid. The stage is fifty five feet deep and 122 feet wide with a fifty foot wide proscenium opening, allowing ample backstage area for large choruses and groups of dancers.

 

Lower Level Floor Plan

Lower Level Floor Plan

In addition to serving the audience and the performer, the building is also designed to serve the needs of the performing organization. The Grant Chambers Salon on the lower level offers organizations the ability to cultivate donors by offering special event space. Easy access to the Salon from the orchestra level is inspired by a similar design at the Palais Garnier in Paris.

 

Main Level Floor Plan

Main Level Floor Plan

As the old Auditorium reemerges as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, SEMPLE BROWN DESIGN team is proud of their accomplishments. This building was originally designed to put Denver on the map – with this new opera house there is an opportunity to do it all over again.

 

Theater Section

Theater Section

Related posts:

Contact Semple Brown Design, P.C.

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Categories: 3D Studio VIZ, Autocad, Opera House

One Response to “Ellie Caulkins Opera House At The Quigg Newton Auditorium in Denver”

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