Design Team Announced for Music Hall Renovation

Posted on September 14, 2015 by amileham

CINCINNATI (September 14, 2015) – City officials, the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC), and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) today introduced the design team that will lead the renovation of the historic Music Hall. An overview of the work to be done, the construction timeline, and the temporary relocation of offices and performance schedules was also outlined.

Music Hall is owned by the City of Cincinnati and leased to MHRC, which has appointed 3CDC as the preferred developer for the renovation. Music Hall’s resident companies include the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Cincinnati Pops, Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, and the Cincinnati Ballet. The hall is managed by the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA).

The prevailing goals of the project are to (1) restore the heritage of a world-class facility for performers and audiences alike, (2) significantly enhance acoustics of the auditorium and the overall audience experience, (3) improve accessibility and modernize the facilities to make them state-of-the-art, (4) economize operational and back of house needs and uses, and (5) execute lasting structural improvements required to secure building longevity.

Design Team

3CDC, MHRC, CAA and the resident companies of Music Hall worked collaboratively to issue a request for proposals in March 2015 to local and national firms with the right experience and qualifications to meet the renovation project goals. Narrowing down the proposals submitted, 3CDC then led an interview process that resulted in the selection of the new team:

Martinez + Johnson Architecture has spent the last 20 years developing projects for non-profit associations, educational institutions, and the nation’s largest promoters and presenters of live entertainment. Together with Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel (PWWG), one of the leading architecture firms in historic rehabilitation, preservation, and adaptive reuse, they make up the design team for the Music Hall renovation.

Akustis, headquartered in Connecticut, is a global firm dedicated to creating performance spaces worldwide that are wonderfully tuned instruments for listening to orchestral, operatic, and theatrical performances. Together with Schuler Shook, experts in providing sustainable lighting solutions that do not compromise design creativity or lighting quality, they make up the rest of the design team.

Messer Construction was chosen as construction manager.

Construction Timetable

Phase I of the $129 million project was completed in August and included underground soil stabilization and the removal of a stage column. Additionally, Akustiks met with the full orchestra for acoustical testing in the theater. The second phase of work is scheduled to begin in November and continue into the spring of 2017. This phase includes “back of house” asbestos abatement and initial construction work. The 2015-2016 performance schedules of the resident companies will not be affected.

Phase III will include a complete shutdown of the building, from June 2016 to the fall of 2017. Drawings for this phase are in process. The CSO, Pops, and May Festival will perform their 2016-2017 seasons at the historic Taft Theatre in Downtown Cincinnati (renovated recently for this purpose), and the Opera will perform at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. The Ballet, which currently performs at the Aronoff Center, will continue to do so until renovation at Music Hall is complete.

The project has secured $123 million in funding to date, including a $10 million grant from the City of Cincinnati plus a $6.6 million ongoing pledge, $5 million from the State of Ohio, $48 million in tax credit equity including a $25 million catalytic award from the Ohio Historic Preservation Association, and $53 million in private donations. MHRC is leading the ongoing fundraising effort to close the $6 million gap. Contributions will be received at or by sending a check to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, 200 West Fourth Street, 45202, attention Music Hall Revitalization.

Moving forward, 3CDC will continue to meet weekly with MHRC and the resident companies to ensure all needs are met. The Cincinnati community is encouraged to follow the construction project online at