New York, NY
H3 was selected to design a 2200-seat opera house nestled within a 41-story apartment tower, designed by Christian de Portzamparc. The challenge of this collaboration was to fit the two uses together, on a relatively small urban lot, including lobbies, elevator cores, loading, a parking garage, and the large opera stage, while benefiting both and minimizing costs.
The lobby of the opera mixes curvilinear shapes derived from the back of the auditorium and layers of vertical fns along the outside walls in a dramatic 100 foot tall Piranesian space of curved stairs and balconies. It encourages exploration, and emphasizes the public as theater.
Deliberately narrow to benefit acoustics, the auditorium, only 85 feet wide, generates strong reflections off of walls and ceilings. Each balcony level is stepped back, featuring minimized overhangs which allow for additional seats with direct acoustic reflections. For structural acoustic isolation, an 18” thick concrete enclosure around the both auditorium and stage, keeps out urban and mechanical noise.
In addition to offering an intimate hall made for exploration, this new opera will be housed in a physical plant that permits the seamless presentation of repertory. Each year 15 operas are presented in alternating sequence, with only a few hours interval for change from one production to another. This requires space and theatrical equipment that permit easy transition.
CLIENT: New York City Opera
SIZE: 240,000 square feet