Open since winter 2010, the 600-seat Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall, part of the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, keeps winning awards. The most recent was the Philament Award 2011 from the IES Philadelphia Section for lighting design excellence. Robert Davis Inc. served as theatre consultants for the project, which was designed by BelsonDesignArchitects and EwingCole, with highly acclaimed acoustics by Marshall/KMK.

“My work on this project took eight years from the first phone call to opening night,” recalls Robert Davis, principal consultant. “The design team strove to create a facility that would delight the music department at Skidmore College and delight the audience. So after years of wondering if the facility would be accepted, it’s a joy to see the room get awards and be so well received.”

The 54,000sq-ft. concert hall features a massive back wall of glass overlooking Haupt Pond. Two motor-operated MechoShade curtains, one opaque and one with 10% light transmission, are used to temper exterior brightness. The performance lighting system comprises 69 ETC Source Four PARs (with MCM reflectors to keep the musicians cool), 71 Philips Strand Lighting Lekos, and 164 20A Philips Strand dimmers.

Cole Lighting custom wall sconces are plastered magically into the walls with no visible joints or fasteners. The fully sprung stage floor makes the space attractive for dance as well as music performances, including events from nearby Saratoga Arts Center.

Two JR Clancy custom tilt-and-lift lineshaft systems, each with a 3-ton lift lineshaft winch interlocked with a 1-ton tilt lineshaft winch, all controlled by a JR Clancy SceneControl™ with soft-start soft-stop technology, raise and lower two rows of acoustical reflectors. “This is done for two reasons,” says Davis. “First is to change the canopy acoustical height to suit the size and nature of the performing group, and second, to clear the canopy out of the way completely for classic leg-and-border masking.” Automatic power and data cable retractors are by SSRC, and a 20 HP screw jack from JR Clancy powers the 400sq-ft. orchestra pit lift using four Joyce-Dayton series 375 screws.

In addition to the reflectors, acoustical draperies change the acoustic decay time from short to long. “These are used primarily to make rehearsal conditions, with no audience, more similar to performance conditions with an audience, and to make the room less reverberant when amplification is being used,” Davis explains. “The audience is not aware of the very large volume of space above the reflectors. The audience is also not aware of the high density of technical services available overhead to present artists at their best and help the facility run efficiently.”