Design TeamAuerbach Pollock Friedlander (Theatre Consulting)
principal designer, principal in charge: Steve Pollock, ASTC
project manager: Howard Glickman
Other Team Members
architect: Pfeiffer Partners Architects
local associate architect: KGA Architecture Studios
general contractor: M. J. Dean Construction, Inc.
civil and structural: Lochsa Engineering and Surveying
architectural lighting: Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Architectural Lighting
MEP low voltage lighting, telecom, life safety: JBA Consulting Engineers
theatre acoustics audio visual:
acoustical and audio system designer: Sam Berkow, SIA Acoustics
specifications: Spectra Consulting
video system and low voltage design: Kelley Technologies, Inc.
Auerbach Pollock Friedlander collaborated with Pfeiffer Partners and KGA Architecture on the 2,115-seat multi-use headliner room The Pearl at the Palms Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. The firm was the theatre designer for the project and advised on the rigging systems design.
The Pearl is part of the Palms’ $600 million expansion and was designed specifically for rock music in the style of a traditional large performing arts center theatre, complete with multi-level lobbies and VIP amenities. The firm worked closely with the architectural team to develop plans for the stage and backstage facilities, as well as the audience chamber configuration, including all seating and VIP areas. In addition to rock concerts, The Pearl hosts televised Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches, stand-up comedy, fashion shows, and other special events. The Pearl also hosted the MTV Music Video Awards in September 2007.
One of the design challenges was fitting the required theatre and support structures into the limited space within The Palms’ existing hotel towers and below the new ballroom and the meeting room complex. The result is an intimate, yet comfortable venue with steep, unobstructed sightlines and reduced viewing distances no more than 120’ away from the stage.
Flexibility is afforded by a flat floor seating area in front of the stage, creating extended playing zones for musicians, fashion runways, fight rings, and passerelles. The sightlines from the elliptical surround of steeply-raked fixed parterre and loggia seating to this area had to be excellent. Flanking boxes and open VIP suites also have unusually steep sightlines, covering the stage and all events staged out on the flat floor. Rapid changeover of events on the flat floor is accommodated by quick removal of stack seating into adjacent storage. Access for rigging over the flat floor takes a cue from the arena business, where high steel and chain hoists afford riggers great flexibility.
When events are staged in front of the proscenium, a forestage rigging system of catwalks and steel beams provides structural support for grids and trussing over the floor. Ultimate Fighting events provide the most rigorous criteria, using a sophisticated star-shaped truss assembly with moving lights and robotic cameras. The entire assembly is suspended over the lower seating area and UFC’s 24’ signature “octagon” ring. Lighting, audio, and video control are all managed from the floor with a comprehensive cable gutter system running from both sides of the stage out to the rear/center of the floor area.
The Pearl seats as many as 2,500 under general admission, and with removable chairs at the lower level, the capacity is reduced to 2,115. Upper seating may be closed off in several configurations with a “cut down” drapery panel system using motorized mecho shade banners. In its smallest configuration, the venue is reduced to 1,124. Even in its most aggressive cut-down mode, however, transparency through these scrim-like panels and through open elliptical viewports under the balcony and in VIP areas provides an unusual level of openness within the room. This is especially true where open portals into public areas allow patrons in the lobby to see and hear acts while a show is in progress.
Blending amenities normally associated with leading performing arts centers and sporting venues, The Pearl brings a unique hybrid approach to patron and performer comfort in a facility that is truly a rock ‘n’ roll concert hall.