For 80 years, Bloomington, Illinois’ Scottish Rite Temple was the center of the city’s artistic and social life. Built originally to host The American Passion Play, the Temple housed a 1,320-seat theatre with the largest stage west of New York and a ballroom that could seat 1,000. The Bloomington Symphony and the Scottish Rite Players were among some of the largest attractions to the center that also included performances by Duke Ellington, Pablo Casals, Beverly Sills, and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
But by the late 1990s, the hall was showing its age. Though it had undergone some piecemeal improvements over the years, it had gone largely unimproved since 1921. “All of the major systems in the building were outdated,” says executive director Bruce Marquis. “Electrical services, plumbing, environmental services for audience comfort access to the building was limited for both artists and audience. There was no ticket office.” And the list went on. “Because we had no loading dock, very limited storage capabilities, no freight elevator, no functional dressing rooms on the stage level, outdated rigging and lighting, and a minimal sound system, we were very limited in what we could offer visiting performers,” he adds. The acoustics, originally designed for spoken voice, says Marquis, were inadequate for unamplified music. “Structurally, the building was sound,” he says, “and provided a solid foundation from which to build.”
The transformation of the Temple to the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) began six years ago as part of a civic effort to revitalize the north side of Bloomington's downtown. The City formed the Bloomington Cultural District to assume ownership of the Temple.
When the BCPA made its post-renovation debut with a performance by Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra on September 16 of this year, it was with many of the original Temple architectural details preserved. Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Inc. from Chicago were the architects for the $15 million project that included: updated dressing rooms, stage storage, a loading dock, freight elevator, expanded and remodeled restrooms, a lobby elevator, new seating, a new ticket office, and coat room. Completely new mechanical systems were installed—heating, air, electrical, and plumbing, and a fire sprinkler system. New theatrical systems include rigging and lighting systems, catwalks, a new sound reinforcement system, and an acoustic enhancement system for non-amplified sound from JaffeHolden of Norwalk, CT and Santa Monica, CA.
Many facilities like Bloomington’s rely on local rental contractors for supplemental equipment for their productions. But since very few rental options are available in the area, the BCPA decided to invest in their own monitor rig. Having the extra mix horsepower, processing, amplifiers, and portable loudspeakers available allows BCPA to provide sound for 1000-seat ballroom located below the main auditorium. The ballroom underwent cosmetic renovation during the project as well as receiving all new mechanical, electrical, and HVAC. The plaster ceiling also received surface-mounted acoustic tiles to help control sound in the reverberant space.
“Universal enthusiasm” is how Marquis describes the community response to the restored venue. “Most people never thought this landmark would ever be restored fully,” he says. “Or that it would not be restored to retain its historical character. But when they come here, they see that the building, which they have come to cherish, has been transformed into a welcoming, warm, and comfortable environment. Theatrical lighting and sound in the hall have impressed patrons as well, the sound of unamplified instruments praised for both its warmth and clarity,” says Marquis.
The LARES-based electronic architecture system was designed and programmed by JaffeHolden’s Systems Group with Steve Barbar, principal of Lexicon Acoustic Reinforcement and Enhancement Systems. It has three basic pre-sets: for symphonic music, chamber, and small group ensemble. For acoustic music programs, the electronic architecture system is turned on and a program-appropriate preset is selected.
Front of House:
Midas Heritage 1000; 48/4 Channel Mixing Console 10 VCA’s, 10 Mix/Aux., 8 matrix, 4 Band EQ, all of which are sweepable- Mid EQ’s are fully parametric. 4 - XTA GQ 600 1/3 octave equalizer
1 -Yamaha SPX2000 Professional Multi-Effect Processor
1 –TCE M2000 Digital Effects Processor
1- Lexicon MPX-1
2 – Klark Teknik DN 514+ Gate
2 – Klarik Teknik DN 504+ Comp/Limiter
2 Sony MDR -7506 headphones
1 Tascam CD-460 CD player
1 Tascam CD- RW2000 CD player/recorder
6 WEP Patch Bay
2-EAW UB 12se Booth monitor speakers
1 Mackie HRS 120 Booth Sub
Front of House Speaker Array:
2 – Crown CTs 2000 amplifiers
2 – Crown CTs 1200 amplifier
2 – Crown CTs 3000 amplifier
1 – Crown CTs 4200IQ amplifier Front fill amp
6 EAW SL 12Se-JHA Front fills
2 EAW AX 396 Center Cabinets
2 EAW AX 364 LR Highs
2 EAW AX 396 LR Mids
2 EAW SB 250P 15” Subs
2 EAW SB 180P 18” Subs
1 – Crown CTS 600
1- 40 channel Crest LM 40/20 mixer board 40 input and 20 out put
4- DBX 3221 Stereo EQs
4 DBX Ieq 31
2 Yamaha PSX 2000
4 – Bi-amped and 3 – Tri-amped mix capabilities with 4 Crest CA (amps) and 2 Crown CT 3000, 2 Crown CT 2000 and 1 Crown ct 1200. For Side fills and Drum Monitors
4- EAW 200i wedges
2- EAW SM 84 wedges
1- EAW SM 500 wedge
1- EAW SB 330 Sub
2- EAW SB 850 Sub
2- JFX 260 side fills
1- whirlwind 56 channel split in portable rack