© Vitetta

The Academy of Music

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Built in 1857, The Academy of Music is considered to be an historical and architectural gem; this concert hall and opera house is the oldest known continuously run opera house in America and the country’s only authentic 19th-century opera house. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander provided theatre and audio-video consulting for the phased renovation of The Academy.

Improvements included design and construction of a new stage floor, removal of the raked stage, modernization of the orchestra pit, installation of a new theatrical lighting system and new spotlight positions, fly loft reconstruction, rigging system replacement and refurbishment of the seating profile in the main level of the auditorium that improved sightlines to the stage and pit.

The challenge of creating a contemporary fly loft with sufficient height for scenery flying and storage was met with the creation of a new stage structure with a steel gridiron to replace the original wooden grid. Orchestra pit modernization included installation of a pit lift and a piano lift with four levels: basement for seating storage, pit level for opera, ballet and theatre performances, parquet level for additional seating and stage level for a forestage apron. A utility lift on-stage was installed to move scenery, instruments and orchestra risers from various storage levels to the new flat floor stage.

The renovation process was done with reverence to the landmark status of this historic building. The full spectrum of improvements was done during a five-year phased process enabling The Academy of Music not to cancel any season of performances during construction.

Architect: Vitetta
Acoustics: Kirkegaard Associates
Cost: $30,000,000
Completion: 2002