I was intrigued a few weeks ago to read Jim Chute’s article in the Union-Tribune about an effort by the symphony to make sure you know they’re there.
Walk past the office and hotel complex between 7th and 8th avenues and A and B streets in downtown and you might never imagine that a luxurious, 1920s-era theatre still exists inside.
But it does. The symphony plays inside the old theater and has for about 25 years. But all around it is an office building, hotel and parking structure, completely swallowing the theater up.
There are a few hints, like the word “symphony” as part of the building’s “Symphony Towers” name. The organization unfurled temporary banners last year on the building with pictures of its musicians. But now the symphony wants to install something permanent that signifies on the street level there’s music inside this otherwise commercial-looking building.
I’ve been interested recently in the symphony’s financial footing. And this hall plays a big role in its stability. It’s fairly rare for an arts organization to own its own performance space instead of renting, and even rarer for the group to own the hall without a mortgage.
Local businessman Larry Robinson bought the hall after the organization’s mid-1990s bankruptcy. He just gave it to the orchestra free and clear last year for the organization’s centennial celebration. That had an estimated value of $20 million.
So the symphony’s not complaining. It might have been out of a place to play in the ’80s if it hadn’t struck a deal to allow developers to build the office towers around it. But the symphony now wants to make sure you know the building has a musical center, like the Tootsie Roll at the center of the pop.
We visited the symphony and the architect working with the organization, Mitra Kanaani, to learn more about the plan to better hint at what’s inside.
Update: Watch the clip from NBC7 San Diego below:
View more videos at: http://nbcsandiego.com.
Kanaani is a pianist-turned-architect. Her design juxtaposes elements of the way music used to be noted in medieval times with her interpretation of a new style of writing music down called graphic notation. She’s weighing a couple of options for color; let us know which one you prefer below.
Here’s how the 7th Avenue entrance looks now, with the original Fox Theatre doors still emblazoned with an “F.”
Here’s one option for the new facade, a rendering Kanaani shared with us. You can see the squarer medieval notes at the top, and the lightning-looking bursts for contemporary notation.
And here’s one option with a bolder color scheme for the bass clef. Which do you like better?
Here’s a rendering where you can see how far from the building the elements would extend.
Did you go to movies in the old Fox Theatre? Have you been to a concert at Symphony Hall and wondered from the outside if you were in the right place?
And what do you think of this plan? Leave us a comment below or on Facebook.
I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.
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