Achieve Form And Function

Since their storied beginnings as places where ancient Greeks enjoyed theater and Romans cheered gladiators in combat, amphitheaters have come a long way. Technological advancements now enhance sound quality, lighting, facility design, seating, and every aspect of the performance. More than 100 of these open-air venues are currently operating throughout the U.S., creating distinctive gathering places for communities.

One of the challenges amphitheaters face is balancing form with function. Natural land formations create spectacular views at Red Rocks in Golden, Colo., and the Gorge in Quincy, Wash., but those postcard-worthy vistas are the exception to the rule. For most

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Texas is known for its dazzling use of light to accompany performances.  Photo By Ted Washington

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Texas is known for its dazzling use of light to accompany performances.

Photo By Ted Washington

venues, enhancing the appearance of the facility, while providing attendees with a terrific entertainment experience, is a result of planning, problem-solving, and creativity. Here is how three diverse amphitheaters have beautified their facilities:

Striking Structural Design

Residents of the Washington, D.C., metro area may go to the FileneCenter at the WolfTrapNational Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va., for world-class concerts. However, the facility itself was designed to be a work of art. The roof over the primary seating area has a dramatic configuration of folded planes and structural elements that enhance the acoustic and visual experience of the performances.

Inside, the extensive use of natural Douglas fir is a striking feature of the facility, used in the dramatically vaulted ceiling area and throughout the space. The natural park setting is visible through open fins on the north and south sides of the building. Views are also spectacular from the lawn, where the interior design beautifully frames performances on the stage.

First opened in 1971, the venue was reconstructed after a fire in 1982.Today, the amphitheater can seat up to 7,000 guests. Fixed seats in the interior accommodate 3,800 people, while other guests can spread out on blankets in the lawn area.

“As America’s only national park for the performing arts, we are unique for a number of reasons,” says Ann McKee, Senior Vice President, Performing Arts & Education for the Wolf Trap Foundation. “Capacity crowds flock to the FileneCenter for its incredible appearance, wide variety of programs, and artistic offerings, including the highly anticipated summer season and our in-depth arts and education programs.”

Two years ago, a devastating hail storm damaged the copper roof. Administration decided to use the repair work as the opportunity to make slight modifications. One-hundred percent of the copper

Day or night, the Filene Center in Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va. uses dramatic structural elements to enhance the acoustic and visual experience of the performances. Photo By Nathan Adams Day or night, the Filene Center in Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va. uses dramatic structural elements to enhance the acoustic and visual experience of the performances.

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