“We started this project many years ago, as far back as 2003,” notes Benton Delinger, director of project management for Theatre Projects US office, the consultants for New World Center, the high-tech new home for New World Symphony (America’s Orchestral Academy) designed by the iconoclast American architect, Frank Gehry, in Miami Beach.
“We worked directly with the symphony to flush out ideas during the program confirmation phase,” says Delinger, who took the reins for project in 2005. The original name for their concept was “sound space,” and they were not sure back then that it was a new campus. Then they hired Frank Gehry and Nagata Acoustics—the same team as Disney Concert Hall and Bard College—and realized the most efficient answer was a new building.”
In fact the room is similar in design to the Disney Concert Hall, yet with much more flexibility. “The lower rows of seats can be removed,” explains Delinger. “There are 10 lifts, two of which have self-adjusting access stairs used as you change the height of the lifts, from flat floor to 5.8’ above audience level.” A Serapid Stage Lift features four Serapid LinkLift lifting columns that can travel to 16’3” above the audience level. The other nine lifts are screwjacks by Macton Corporation. Ultimately, there are 14 configurations, from orchestra to cabaret.
The performance space has 756 seats by Poltrana Frau, upholstered in a mixture of different blues to evoke the ambiance of Miami. The seats are surrounded by curved walls, which serve as five projection surfaces or “sails” to create an immersive array of images. “The sails are built onto frames with multi layers of drywall and Shotcrete on the back,” notes Delinger. These can be used for projected images, titles, or a live feed via 10 robotic HD cameras. “Each sail can have its own video or it can all linked together,” he adds. “You can also project HD from inside or from around the world onto the 100’ x 70’ exterior wall, commission custom video art, or listen to a concert.”
Delinger and the team from Theatre Projects worked closely with Brian Elwell at Acoustic Dimensions on the video package which includes a coolux Pandoras Box media server system and 14 30,000 –lumen Christie Digital projectors. “The room is used primarily for music, but also raves, movies, and other events,” Delinger notes. “There is audio integrated into the sails with embedded loudspeakers, so the image of someone speaking can be projected onto a sail, with no voice delay.” Fred Vogler of Sonitus was also part of the team for the audio system, which comprises a Meyer Constellation system.
“We also worked hard to make sure the performance lighting was carefully integrated,” added Delinger. Barbizon Lighting in Orlando provided the lighting package, which includes Philips Vari-Lite VL1100s (revised by VL to make them quieter), 20 VL550s as wash fixtures, 150 ETC Source Fours, ETC dimmers, and an MA Lighting grandMA console. Delinger worked closely with lighting director for New World Center, Stefan Dewilde (formerly at Cirque du Soleil in Orlando). “He understands the integration of video and lighting,” Delinger notes. “The entire building is networked so it can all be run by a grandMA console, and we provided a nice complement of gear that works really well together.”
The facility has Internet 2 broadcasting capability, allowing for "virtual" interaction with musicians around the world, from master classes to concerts. With its high-tech and very complete integration of music, audio, video, and lighting in a concert hall, New World Center is in the avant garde of venue design: “It’s the hall of the future,” says Delinger. “A real game-changer.”