Architect’s rendering (courtesy H3 Architects) detailing the many Muny Opera stage renovations (our thanks to the St. Louis Post Dispatch).
Among the services offered by Guarantee Electrical Company (Guarantee) is preconstruction modeling deploying Building Information Modeling (BIM) and using Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) technologies. Providing next-level CAD, their three-dimensional renderings of electrical and communications infrastructure are deployed to support close coordination of the implementation of a given (often highly complex) design with those of the mechanical systems and building automation technologies that have become staples in the construction—especially of technically advanced facilities.
With its sheer density of overlapping building systems, the $100 million dollar Muny Renovation project celebrates the centennial anniversary of St. Louis’ venerable amphitheater, while taking on a wholesale upgrade of the facility. Indeed, reconstructing America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater offered the platform and the challenges of an unprecedented range of innovations. Among these, include illuminated glass building forms (capable lighting from within or without) that can conceal or project virtually any form of imagery to the stage, plus the stage itself, brand new, with substantially expanded resources, including automated lighting and sound capable of bringing new levels of stage-craft to the Muny. These included powering two automated (and motorized) turntables along with five lifts capable of moving people and props from backstage to front or up from below stage, all fostering new levels of special effects in the theater.
Not only does the renovation improve the Muny’s theater production resources to levels not seen outside of Chicago and New York, but most of its technical enhancements are embedded in the design which called for unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary preconstruction coordination which made it far easier for the construction teams carry out their mission. Hence, the importance of having Guarantee’s state-of-the-art modeling together with Guarantee’s prefabrication resources made available to support the installers of minority contractor, TD4 Electric, and in support of the construction teams led by Tarlton Corporation, general contractors.
Among the features designed in by H3 Architects, theatrical design specialists out of New York City, includes a full basement housing the facility’s new electrical and mechanical systems, with an array of elevators, dressing-rooms with every contemporary convenience, as well as modular storage space for stage properties and other equipment.
An important element in the Muny’s design is a state-of-theater-technology, 180 foot overhead light bridge constructed in seven modular sections that arches over the stage, that includes an integrated walkway designed to supply infinite capabilities for managing stage configurations. In all, the bridge and its adjacent, shell-shaped towers frame the stage and conceal an array of electronics and sound equipment. Together, their construction necessitated extensive coordination of the theater’s electrical and communications systems combined with the complex mechanical and sound systems. In all, the bridge and its technologies and incorporated some 5,000 feet of electrical conduit—much of it subject to prefabrication at Guarantee’s Prefab Center on its campus between Bent and Morganford.
What’s more, the Muny’s lighting systems feature high-intensity, low-heat and energy-saving LED fixtures throughout, who’s automated controls are fully integrated with additional LED screens for digital projections that will offer virtually unlimited color variations on, above and around the stage. Moreover, air ducts concealed in the new towers gently pump out cooling breezes across the seating areas throughout the theater. Among the numerous advanced improvements is an entirely new, enlarged orchestra pit that cantilevers out beneath the Muny’s stage-front, designed to accommodate orchestras of almost any size whose members will now enjoy a climate controlled environment vastly more performance-friendly than its cramped, century-old predecessor.