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St. Louis Symphony Orchestra announces expansion, renovation plans for Powell Hall

The plans still need to be approved by the city.

ST. LOUIS — Instead of the sweet sounds of violins filling the air at Powell Hall, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra wants to hear construction. 

That's because Wednesday afternoon SLSO announced plans for a 65,000-square-foot expansion and renovation. The cost is estimated at more than $100 million and it would be the first major project at Powell Hall since SLSO started calling it home in 1968, according to a release. 

The project "will transform the 1925 building into a vibrant and accessible music center for the entire community," a release read.

The plans do still need city approval before construction can start. It will be reviewed at the city's next Preservation Board meeting.

“This is an exciting chapter in the SLSO’s history. The project will improve every aspect of the audience and artist experience and will better support our mission as performer and educator, enriching lives through the power of music and fostering a sense of belonging for everyone," said Marie-Hélène Bernard, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra president and CEO. "We will preserve the history of Powell Hall while also creating a hub for community, innovation, and powerful music experiences.”

Here's what the expansion will include:

  • New 3,400-square-foot education and learning center that will feature a rehearsal venue and space for education programs and events
  • New lobby with concession areas, a coat check and more
  • Backstage space that will include new lounges, practice spaces and dressing rooms

Renovation plans include:

  • Improving existing entrances and adding more
  • Creating outdoor green spaces
  • Reducing the auditorium's capacity from 2,683 seats to 2,150 to create "a more intimate audience experience" with larger seats and more leg room
  • Making Powell Hall ADA-accessible by adding handrails and three elevators
  • Adding restrooms, concessions and improving parking
  • A state-of-the-art lighting system

Check out some of the renderings in the gallery below. 

Powell Hall was built as St. Louis Theatre in 1925. In 1965, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, which didn't have a permanent home, performed there and was impressed with the acoustics. SLSO went on to purchase the theatre and renovate it, thanks in part to a gift from Helen Lamb Powell, in honor of her late husband, Walter, a release from SLSO said. The new Powell Hall opened in 1968 and SLSO has called it home since then.

Credit: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra


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