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Project Description & Specifications

The project includes construction of Verizon Hall, a 2,500-seat concert hall, custom-made as the home of The Philadelphia Orchestra; Perelman Theater, a 650-seat recital theater for performances including chamber music, dance and drama, and Commonwealth Plaza, an active, welcoming civic space.

The project occupies one full block of Center City Philadelphia, fronting on the Avenue of the Arts (Broad Street). The site is at Spruce Street; five blocks south of City Hall, one block south of the Academy of Music, immediately north of the University of the Arts and four blocks east of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Design Strategy
The two major components, Verizon Hall and Perelman Theater, are treated as complete, free-standing buildings. Perelman Theater, with its curved façade, is placed off-axis toward the front of the site on Broad Street, while Verizon Hall, with its polygonal exterior, is centered at the far end.

These two buildings are entirely enclosed by a surrounding structure of glass, steel and brick, so that the irregular spaces between and around them become a kind of indoor plaza, top-lit by day through an immense, glass-and-steel barrel vault roof.

Project Size
Footprint: 100,075 square feet
Gross program area: 429,085 square feet

Building & Land Costs
$235 million

Project Leadership

  • Willard G. Rouse III, Chairman, Regional Performing Arts Center
  • Tom Ridge, Governor of Pennsylvania
  • John Street, Mayor of Philadelphia
  • Edward G. Rendell, former Mayor of Philadelphia

Rafael Viñoly, AIA
Rafael Viñoly Architects PC
New York, London, Buenos Aires

Acoustics Designer
Russell Johnson, FASA
Artec Consultants Inc.
New York, NY

Theater Consultant
Richard Pilbrow and David I. Taylor
Theatre Projects Consultants
Norwalk, CT

November 12, 1998

December 16, 2001 (following gala previews December 14-15)



Principal Design Features

Perimeter Structure
The envelope for The Kimmel Center is constructed of glass, steel and brick. The façade along the Avenue of the Arts (Broad Street) is largely transparent at street level, allowing passersby to see into the public plaza. To maintain the scale of the surrounding residential and cultural buildings, the brick walls rise approximately to the height of the neighboring University of the Arts. The building is surmounted by a transparent, folded plate-glass barrel vault that extends the length of the structure and ends on both sides in a colossal glass arch. A pair of glass-encased elevators at the front of The Kimmel Center allows access to a restaurant on the third floor and to a rooftop garden above the Perelman Theater.

Verizon Hall
Verizon Hall accommodates 2,500 patrons in four levels of seating. The exterior is entirely clad in Macore wood fins. The sinuous form of the hall is based on the shape of a cello. The interior surfaces are covered in mahogany, including the ceiling of each tier, reinforcing the image of a finely crafted musical instrument. Acoustic diffusion is achieved with the use of solid wood curving strips.

A movable concert ceiling is located above the platform, creating an acoustical reflector for the musicians. This floating element, which also contains theatrical and concert lighting provisions for a cyclorama and a center speaker cluster, is finished in wood and cork. The hall also features acoustics adjustment chambers (71’ high by approx. 16’ deep) surrounding the audience seating at all levels on both sides of the room.


Size: 101,000 square feet


Stage Specifications:
The platform is equipped with a forestage extension, a dual height piano lift and three choral seating wagons. The full platform is 45’ deep by 77’ wide and can be extended to 52’ deep. The stage floor is stained beech with a 6" airspace on resilient pads. The stage doors and loading dock are 12’ clear from stage right. A full technical attic level above the hall has point hoists and lifting equipment for the acoustical reflector. The hall has a lighting bridge and provisions for three follow spots. There is lighting and speaker accommodation at each tier level. 

Principal Acoustics Design Elements:
Controllable acoustics adjustment chambers (at the sides of the audience chamber); system of motor-operated, sound-absorbing banners (in the side chambers and in the primary chamber); mechanized concert platform extension; motor-operated system of three independent sound-reflecting timber canopies above the concert platform.

Perelman Theater
In contrast to the handcrafted, curving, organic forms of Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater is designed as a metal-clad transformable space within the orthogonal form of an 87 foot cube. Finished in light woods and warm-colored fabrics with metallic highlights, the interior of the auditorium complements its soft gold exterior.

Designed as an intimate multi-purpose recital hall, the Perelman Theater can accommodate an audience of 650 for conventional and experimental theater, music and dance simultaneously and individually. Its turntable stage enables the theater to be transformed from conventional proscenium stage configuration to an arena where seating and finishes wrap continuously around the auditorium at each level to complete the horseshoe plan.


Size: 27,000 square feet


Stage Specifications
The turntable stage is a 37’ radius revolve equipped with a fixed "end of room" element that is housed within the stage house atop a 2’ thick concrete slab. In drama/dance mode, the Perelman Theater’s proscenium, which is 38’ 4" high by 58’ wide, frames a sprung wood floor stage measuring 83’ wide by 40’ deep. A gridiron is located 74’ 6" above the stage with a continuous counterweight rigging slot and technical galleries running the full depth of the stage at various levels above. With its modern sound, lighting and rigging equipment, the Perelman Theater can properly host any multi-media event or performance. 

Acoustics Design ElementsThe primary machinery to provide flexibility of the acoustics environment is the turntable that occupies most of the floor area of the stagehouse. Mounted on half of this turntable is a concert shell, to be used for recitals, choral concerts and performances by small chamber orchestras. 

Commonwealth Plaza
Access to Commonwealth Plaza, the civic space of The Kimmel Center, is provided through two glass-enclosed vestibules located on Broad and Spruce Streets. The floor throughout the plaza is covered in quartzite, and the naming wall and "Society of Founders" donor wall are made of black granite. The PECO café is open to the public during daytime hours. 

The facility contains seven public elevators, two freight elevators, one service elevator and two backstage elevators. Verizon Hall is accessible by the public via bridges at the upper levels and is directly connected to the support spaces for performers on the west side of the complex. The rooftop garden above Perelman Theater is directly accessible by elevator from Broad Street.

Additional Facilities
In addition to the main performance spaces, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts includes a "black box" theater: a two-story space with a pipe grid hanging system, control room and sprung floor. Also, the Rendell room is equipped with acoustic reflectors and adjustable banners and can be used for lectures and banquets in addition to rehearsal space for choral groups. There is an underground parking garage that accommodates 144 cars.

Dressing room accommodations include lockers and lounge spaces for the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as a Maestro Suite, visiting chorus changing facilities and 14 private/semi-private dressing rooms. There is a full banqueting kitchen and a 175-seat restaurant that extends to the balcony accommodating an additional 60 people.

The Kimmel Center is fully handicapped-accessible throughout.

Design Team
Rafael Viñoly Architects

  • Rafael Viñoly, Lead Designer
  • Jay Bargmann, Project Director
  • Sandy McKee, Project Manager
  • Design Team: Charles Blomberg, Harry Bolick, Adam Felchner, Larry Jones, John Kinnaird, Shigeru Kotoda, Harold Park, Caleb Peterson, Stephen Sedalis, Crystal Son, Chris Stone, Hiroki Wakimura, Ivan Zidarov

Acoustics Design Team
Artec Consultants Inc.

  • Russell Johnson, Room Acoustics
  • Robert Wolff, Room Acoustics
  • Allan Teplitzky, Noise and Vibration Control
  • Christopher A. Storch, Co-ordinator

Theater Design Team
Theatre Projects Consultants

  • Richard Pilbrow, David I. Taylor, Benton Dellinger, Michael Nishball

Structural Engineers
Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners, in association with Goldreich Engineering, PC

Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Consultants
Ove Arup and Partners

Fire Safety Engineers
Hughes Associates, Inc.

Civil Engineers
Ang Associates

Lighting Design
Claude R. Engle Lighting Consultant

Food Service Equipment Consultants
Cini-Little International, Inc.

Graphic Design
Wojciechowski Design

Robert Schwartz and Associates

Vertical Transportation Consultants
Van Duesen & Associates

Security Consultant
Aggleton & Associates

Organ Design
Dobson Pipe Organ Builders

Geotechnical Engineer
McClymont & Rak


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