The Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia is a 90,000 square foot multi-discipline space has three distinct performance functions: Music, Theater and Dance. The centerpiece of the center is the 825-seat Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall featuring a custom built Daniel Jaeckel Opus 45 pipe organ with fifty four stops and 3,605 pipes in a cherry wood case. The hall is a tall, narrow concert hall design that rises above the roofline of the main building and is articulated with clerestory windows. The acoustical features of the 825 seat Concert Hall includes a suspended precast ceiling with cast sound diffusion, under-floor fed HVAC system, motorized banners and a 24” solid fill masonry wall with plaster finish isolated from the building structure.
Theater and Dance are housed in the Center, which include a 135 seat Theater Lab, as well as practice rooms, green rooms, faculty offices and a multi-purpose Arts Commons Studio, as well as a 135 seat Dance Studio. With these studios, there is also a theater observatory where students can view and discuss what is happening in the theater lab.
The Tharp Rehearsal Hall is used for major ensemble rehearsals, and is designed to mimic the breadth and height of a concert hall and stage so students can gain real performance experience. There are classrooms in the lower level of the Center known as “smart” classrooms. All are wired with equipment for multimedia and other presentations.
The Concert Hall ceiling construction required precast ceiling panels suspended from large structural steel trusses. The precast panels were designed for acoustic considerations, high quality interior aesthetics as well as a working platform for the large attic space above the Hall. This application of precast concrete required above industry standard tolerances. We allowed for over six months of shop drawing review because of the critical coordination between the structure, architectural design, theatrical equipment and acoustics. The tight site significantly limited our erection options. Beginning in the design development phase, we began to create a detailed plan in order to identify the safest and most cost efficient options for erecting the precast panels. Ultimately, we devised precast panels with pick points on either end of the panel. By initially erecting the majority of the steel structure, we were able to lower the precast through the steel to the concrete slab below. We then utilized a second crane to attach to the other end of the precast and raise the large panel into place. Our involvement during the design prevented potential field modifications and costly changes caused by the complexity of the erection sequence and design parameters.