Brooklyn Park Amphitheater

Brooklyn Park Amphitheater
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minnesota Orchestral Association (M.O.A.) intention to build an 18,000 seat amphitheater that could accommodate both acoustic and amplified sound presented a considerable challenge to the design team. Additional constraints arose in order to meet Minnesota's stringent sound intrusion laws, and the need to integrate a community park into the overall Master Plan. Hodgetts + Fung, working with Paul Scarborough of JHS Acoustics, devised the plan which enabled the M.O.A. to successfully secure the required permissions. The project is now nearing the end of the design development; the design incorporates a ''signature'' roof for 7,000 patrons, crystalline walls for sound mitigation, and a massive, gently sloped berm which will provide lawn seating during the concert season and snow activities during the winter months. A man made knoll, a curving roof, and a sliver of water combine to create a landscape for music performances in the Brooklyn Park Amphitheater for the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.

With inspiration from the Blossom Music Center, which was designed by Hodgetts + Fung collaborators at van Dijk Pace Westlake, the knoll surrounding the performance environment is to be a relaxing place for picnics and naps, and a snow scape for recreation in the winter. A silvery roof will beckon to concertgoers, then merge mirage like with the stands of natural brush, which define the hill's contours. Guests first experience a ''village'' designed to create an urban foyer for ticketing and concessions prior to entering the amphitheater itself. An airy interior structure, defined by a glowing rim, will provide a carefully balanced acoustical environment, while expanses of glass and a lattice of steel provide sound containment.
"An amphitheater is many things to many people. Certainly as an enormous public gathering place and an opportunity for the members of the surrounding community to come together as a body, amphitheaters are significant contributors to the communities they serve. The ceremony of entrance, the sense of shared experience, the promotion of common aesthetic and cultural values are all elements in which the physical design of an amphitheater can have a profound effect upon the life of a community like Brooklyn Park. Such a facility is also an important vehicle for the performers themselves, providing an elevated place for the exercise of their art, and a supporting structure for the sometimes trying periods of rehearsals which provide the foundation of their performances. And lastly, a facility like that proposed for the MOA must provide an effective and well reasoned place for the technical support which can often make the difference between success or failure. Lighting systems, the capacity of pick points, and the layout of dressing rooms have equal parts in the magic of a great performance, and their significance should not be diminished in the search for a compelling image.

The design of such a facility has become particularly challenging as the competing needs of an ever growing list of presenters, promoters, and technologies require accommodation often in turnarounds of less than 24 hours. In this context, many of the conventions associated with such facilities require close examination, even reevaluation, while the promise of new configurations and applications must be carefully assessed to determine their potential to achieve the objectives of the sponsoring organization.

This is particularly true in the case of the Brooklyn Park Amphitheater, in which the MOA has expressed a need for a high profile architectural design, yet desires competitive accommodations for ''road show'' attractions which must choose performance venues based on practical rather than aesthetic concerns. Competing requirements for sound reinforcement, the performance environment for an acoustic ensemble, sight lines, and environmental sound mitigation require that the architectural design provide strategic solutions for a myriad of invisible systems which will have a dramatic and often determining affect on the success of the facility, notwithstanding the excellence of the visual design elements themselves. In our view, such a mission requires a design team that is technically and aesthetically qualified to think ''outside the box,'' yet able to recognize and provide support for those practicalities that lie at the very heart of creating a viable performance facility". - 
Hodgetts + Fung 


7 photos and 1 drawing

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