Building Design and Construction Honors Cincinnati Music Hall Redesign

Renovation Involving Pennoni MEP Experts Places Platinum in Reconstruction Awards

Building Design and Construction (BD+C) named the $146 million interior and exterior renovation of the Cincinnati Music Hall as a Platinum award winner for their 2018 Reconstruction Awards! Pennoni provided MEP services for the facility as part of a Design Assist team alongside Martinez and Johnson Architects of Washington DC, PWWG Architecture of Pittsburgh, PA, general contractor Messer Construction, and project management company 3CDC. The BD+C Reconstruction Awards honored 21 projects this year as the best reconstructed, renovated, or remodeled projects, based on overall design, engineering, and construction project quality. The 300,000 plus square-foot entertainment venue was overdue for a redesign as its last significant renovation was half a century ago.

Richard Schafer, PE, LEED AP, Pennoni’s Associate Vice President and Arlington, VA Office Director served as the project’s electrical engineer of record. He explains the significance of the award win and the overall outcome, saying, “It’s often said that one does not know what one has until it’s gone. The Music Hall was in dire need of repairs to her systems and architecture. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the team that restored the hall to an enhanced version of her former glory.”

Pennoni provided mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire protection and fire alarm design, and engineering services for spaces throughout the Hall. The electrical system was upgraded, increasing capacity to accommodate the new design of the facility. A new emergency system was added to include the power to the new fire pump, emergency lighting and fire alarm system in the building. These changes were made without compromising the historical infrastructure.

Pennoni’s MEP experts closely monitored noise and vibration controls of the equipment and impact of the design with respect to historical preservation. Acoustics also played into many of the decisions made during these renovations. The new world-class mechanical system was designed to be installed in a penthouse located outside the building in the former carriageways. Installing these systems outside of the main hall prevented the transmission of noise and allowed for additional room for the system itself. Part of the HVAC system that serves the lower level of the hall was designed to condition the space with low flow, large volume displacement of air. Most importantly, the new system is extremely quiet, rated at Noise Criterion 5, and is not disruptive to the grand performances of the hall. In Corbett Tower, noise was reduced by introducing a conduction fan coil system and in the newly created mezzanine level for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra offices a Chilled Beam system was added to accommodate very tight floor to ceiling heights.

The most extensive restoration was to the exterior of the building. Many of the iconic windows had been bricked over but were restored to their previous glory. The main event space, Corbett Tower, underwent “the purest and most dramatic architecturally restorative part of the project,” according to PWWG. A larger space for rehearsals, performances, and events was created from newfound space on the second floor of the North Hall. Visitors have a more comfortable experience as well, with five new spacious concession areas and increased restroom capacity —all fully ADA accessible. The former carriageway for the South Hall was covered and repurposed to create Taft Suite, a lounge and reception area with modern detailing.

Schafer expressed his pride in being a part of the feat, saying, “Our exceptional team of experts worked tirelessly to improve the comfort, sound, performance and internal beauty of the hall for all to enjoy. There aren’t many venues in the world that can match the auditory and visual performances one can experience in the hall. The Cincinnati Music Hall is truly an American Treasure.”

Read more about our work on the Cincinnati Music Hall here.


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