Groundbreaking begins Wednesday on a $79 million concert hall at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. Major arts groups from St. Paul will gather this morning for a ceremony marking the moment.
The new 1,100-seat hall will be located adjacent to the Ordway's main music theater and will serve primarily as the home for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. It replaces the Ordway's smaller 306-seat McKnight Theatre. Construction of the hall will take two years. Ordway officials estimate that the new hall could increase attendance by more than 130,000 people annually.
Funds for the building are being raised by the Arts Partnership, which consists of the SPCO, Minnesota Opera, Schubert Club, and Ordway.
In a statement from the Arts Partnership, Ordway President and CEO Patricia Mitchell said, "The project will solve long-standing challenges for the Arts Partnership organizations, while benefitting the entire community. We are thrilled to see the concert hall project get underway."
Arts Partnership President Barry Kempton, who also leads the Schubert Club, said the new building will benefit all of the organizations. The new hall will free up the Ordway's main hall for the other partners' productions, while also allowing smaller performances.
The new hall is designed to have the best acoustics possible for classical music, Kempton said.
"When any audience member sits in a really good acoustic I believe that they can't fail to hear and enjoy the performance better because of a good acoustic," he said.