News 18-12 (No.372)
Issued : December 25, 2018
Sapporo Cultural Arts Theater "Hitaru" Opens
By Fumiaki Sakamaki
Sapporo Community Plaza building exterior
On October 7, 2018, Sapporo Cultural Arts Theater “Hitaru” held its gala opening event. The program featured a staged performance of the opera Aïda.
Hitaru Theater is located in the new Sapporo Community Plaza. The project is part of a redevelopment project built in the district of the city, "Sosei-San-Ku", having boundaries along Sapporo’s Odori Park (which runs east-west through the center of the city) and the Sosei River that flows in the north-south direction. This location put the community plaza in the center of Sapporo City, with Sapporo City Hall and Sapporo Citizens Hall across the street and tourist attractions such as Sapporo Clock Tower nearby.
<< Overview of the Project >>
Sapporo Community Plaza is part of Sapporo Sosei Square, a two building campus that includes a 26-story high-rise tower and a 9-story building. The tower houses Hokkaido Television Broadcasting, Asahi Shimbun and other offices, and the adjacent 9-story building is the Sapporo Community Plaza. The Community Plaza is comprised of three parts: Sapporo Cultural Arts Theater "Hitaru", which include the 2,302-seat theater; Sapporo Cultural Arts Community Center (SCARTS), which has various spaces for creative activities of the residents; and the Sapporo Municipal Library and Information Center. "Hitaru" is not just a theater but it also includes a Creative Studio with the same floor sized space as the theater’s main stage so that the Creative Studio can be used for rehearsals as well as for workshops and recital performances. SCARTS has five medium and small practice rooms, “SCARTS Court”, a flat space that can be used for exhibitions and performances, and many other facilities.
Importantly for a community center in the northern city of Sapporo, the new Community Plaza can be accessed directly from a stop on the city’s subway line without having to go outside. Therefore, regardless of the weather, residents will find it easy to come to events and performances.
Sapporo Sosei Square project's architect was a joint venture of Tokyo-based Nikken Sekkei and its Hokkaido affiliate company, Hokkaido Nikken Sekkei. Taisei Corporation served as the general contractor. Nagata Acoustics participated on the project primarily to provide the room acoustics design of the theater and related acoustics consulting services such as the 1/10 scale model acoustical testings and performing acoustic measurements of the 9-story Community Plaza building at the completion of the project.
<< The Theater >>
Theater configured with opera curtain
Theater configured with orchestra shell
Theater’s audience seating (orchestra seating and balconies)
The new Theater in "Hitaru" was designed to be a high-functioning hall that can adapt to the needs of many different genres, from opera and ballet to classical music concerts, musicals, popular music concerts, and so on. The theater is the first in Hokkaido to have multiple stages and it has a fully equipped theatrical rigging system that supports opera and ballet productions. The hall also has a deployable orchestra shell, which makes the acoustics of the theater appropriate for classical music concerts. Also, the floor under the first few rows of audience seats can be lowered to create an orchestra pit or configured as needed by a production for use as an apron stage instead of audience seating.
The theater’s design concept aimed to create as much proximity as possible from every seat to the stage, resulting in an extremely compact configuration in which even the seat farthest from the stage is within a 38 m (125 ft) distance from the stage tip. The finalized audience seating area has three balcony levels above the main floor, each balconies surround the main floor.
We did not want to have the width of the audience area too wide because reflected sound would not reach the center portion of the main floor if the walls are to far away. To achieve even distribution of reflected sound in the main floor, walls near the stage are narrowed down as much as possible, and seats directly below the balconies are slightly raised to build terraced walls surrounding the center portion, and the angles of the balcony tips are optimized to reflect sound to the main floor. The main walls are made in a pleated configuration of angled surfaces so that reflected sound can be evenly widespread over the audience area.
For the balcony seats, the ceilings directly overhead are designed to have a shape that smoothly folds upwards in a curve at the edges to ensure that reflected sound from the curved balcony tips reach the rear rows of the balcony seating.
Height of the orchestra shell is set to 14 m (46 ft) at the proscenium from the stage floor. Above the audience seating sound reflection ceilings are installed that evoke large clouds in the vast sky of spacious Hokkaido land. The ceilings are equipped with full color LED lighting that can be adjusted for a variety of visual moods to suit the production needs of performances.
<< 1/10 Acoustic Model and Other Acoustics Testing >>
In addition to performing repeated computer simulations during the design phase, we also built a 1/10 scale model and conducted acoustical testing in the model during the early part of the project’s construction phase. As a result of the 1/10 scale model testing, we made minor modifications to the shape of the balcony edges and we added acoustical soffits from the wall at the sides of the sound reflection ceilings. These modifications were implemented to ensure the desired acoustics in the theater.
Upon the construction completion of the theater, we measured the acoustical characteristics in the theater to confirm the results of our design. In August, 2018, before the theater’s official, early October opening, the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra played a test performance in the Theater under the baton of Maestro Tadaaki Odaka, Artistic adviser of the Theater. During this performance, we checked how it varies in acoustics in different orchestra positions on stage, seat positions in the audience area and when the orchestra plays in the orchestra pit.
<< Opening Gala Opera and Upcoming Events >>
At Hitaru Theater’s opening performance of Aïda, the music of Sapporo Symphony Orchestra’s playing and the soloists’ voices both filled the venue beautifully with clarity and appropriate loudness.
The opening series of performances includes an impressive and diverse lineup of ballet, piano recitals, popular music concerts and other events. We have also attended these performances, and confirmed successful acoustics of the theater to accommodate a variety of performances. I look forward to Hitaru Theater’s bright future as the new venue in Sapporo City.
For more information about Hitaru Theater, please visit the Sapporo Community Plaza website at https://www.sapporo-community-plaza.jp/index_e.html
The Colburn School Plans a New Concert Hall and Dance Theater in L.A.
By Motoo Komoda
The Colburn School current and future campus
locations and surrounding neighborhood
The Colburn School is a music and dance conservatory located in downtown Los Angeles. Originally established in 1950 as a small preparatory school that also offered piano lessons, by the late 1970s the school had gained a reputation for its premier performing arts education and an enthusiastic supporter in businessman Richard D. Colburn. In 1980, Mr. Colburn made a very substantial donation to the school, and in 1988-89 the school changed its name to the R. D. Colburn School of Performing Arts. The school’s Music Academy and a Dance Academy teach and train young, aspiring performing artists in pre-college and pre-professional programs.
In March, 2018, Colburn announced the expansion of its campus. The expansion includes building a 1,100-seat concert hall and a 600-seat dance theater. The expansion portion of the school will be constructed very near the existing school building on a site diagonally across the intersection of S. Olive and W. 2nd streets. (The yellow rectangles on the accompanying aerial map show the locations of the school’s current and expansion campuses.)
<< The Changed Face of Downtown L.A. from the 1980s to Now >>
Downtown Los Angeles has long attracted a great variety of people. But in the 1980s and even up until 1990, numerous incidents resulted in the neighborhood becoming known as having a high crime rate and unsafe for pedestrians and tourists. I’ve heard that when the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), designed by architect Arata Isozaki, opened on Grand Avenue in 1988, some people said they felt uncomfortable about visiting the museum because of its location.
However, the City of Los Angeles succeeded in reducing crime and improving public safety to turn around the neighborhood. By the time Walt Disney Concert Hall held its gala opening in 2003, the downtown neighborhood had much improved and was becoming a destination of choice for both Angelinos and tourists alike. In 2015, the Broad Museum opened adjacent to Disney Concert Hall and added yet another attractive reason for people to come to this cultural corridor of the city. Now the neighborhood’s safety is so improved and assured that when a popular exhibit draws large crowds to The Broad, the museum’s architecture and art fans can be seen looking relaxed and comfortable while lined up outside the museum awaiting their turns to view the exhibit.
<< The Next Two Additions to Downtown L.A.’s Cultural Corridor >>
At the time of this writing, directly across from Disney Concert Hall on Grand Avenue a multi-use-space project is under construction, named “The Grand”. This welcome new complex combines housing, shops and restaurants in a single structure. It’s easy to imagine how this addition to the neighborhood will further increase both the foot traffic and the attractiveness of the area.
The recently announced expansion of the Colburn School campus, with its 1,100-seat concert hall and a 600-seat dance theater, as well as music classrooms and dance studios will maintain and strengthen the corridor’s connection to the performing arts. The campus expansion plan will also include space for outdoor performances. It will create increased opportunities for local residents and others to enjoy the performing arts in downtown Los Angeles.
Both The Grand and the Colburn School expansion campus are being designed by Frank Gehry. Of course, Frank Gehry also designed the architecture of Walt Disney Concert Hall. When the two new projects complete, the face of this section of Grand Avenue will be transformed and three structures on both sides of Grand Avenue will be his work.
<< The Dream Will Come True After More than 30 Years >>
If we look back to the second half of the 1980s when Walt Disney Concert Hall was being planned, we learn that more than 30 years ago Frank Gehry conceived of building this part of Grand Avenue into a cultural hub or corridor. In fact, during those years, Mr. Gehry apparently did some sketches of his idea. Also, the original guidelines of the Walt Disney Concert Hall project included a chamber concert hall and a mid-size hall for dance and other performing arts performances, in addition to the main hall that was eventually built. The smaller rooms included in the original project programming were removed because of budget constraints.
Partly because of this history, even though Los Angeles is the U.S. West Coast’s largest city, in terms of venues for the performance of classical music, the city has just the two large halls of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (located inside The Music Center shown on the accompanying map), which is used mostly for opera performances, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. The city doesn’t have a good, affordable, medium-to-large sized hall for classical music concerts.
Now, with the Colburn School project and its plan to build a concert hall and a dance theater in the school’s new expansion campus, and because the new facilities will be operated in conjunction with the operations of the existing two major facilities, the long unfulfilled dream of the people who’ve been involved with these projects and the neighborhood will at long last be realized. Having all of these performing arts facilities in one Los Angeles location will ensure that the downtown area becomes a cultural hub not only for Angelinos, but also for people from all over the world.
The architectural design of the expansion campus has just begun. The conceptual design will complete by the end of this year and work on the construction documents will begin in early 2019. I’m not able to share here with readers Mr. Gehry’s proprietary model studies or the 3D renderings being developed with the latest technologies. However, I’m delighted to report that a unique Gehry design for this project is underway now.
For more information about Colburn School, please visit the school's website at http://www.colburnschool.edu/
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 795
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00