The New Flexible Steinmetz Hall: the Perfect Addition to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

The centerpiece of the second phase of expansion at the Dr. Phillips Center, the outstanding Steinmetz Hall, opened its doors just a little over six months ago. Designed by Santa Barbara’s Barton Myers Associates (design architect), HKS Architects of Dallas (executive architect), and Orlando’s Baker Barrios Architects (architect), the Dr. Phillips multicultural complex is Orlando’s premiere venue. It features a 2,700-seat amplified hall (Walt Disney Theater) for Broadway-style performances and a 300-seat venue (Pugh Theater) for smaller shows and community arts groups, along with a large outdoor arts plaza, rehearsal rooms, administrative offices, and arts education spaces. Blending advanced acoustics (N1 sound rating) with flexible architecture, the new 1,700-seat Steinmetz Hall is the ideal complement to the Dr. Phillips Center. 

A one-of-kind multipurpose hall

Equipped with a Gala Venue® transformable seating system, Steinmetz Hall is one of very few theaters in the world that can transform automatically in both shape and seating. This versatility is more than welcome as the venue is the new home of the Orlando Ballet, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Orlando. Designed by consultant Theatre Projects and assisted by project manager Whiting-Turner construction company, it can be transformed at management’s discretion from a shoe-box concert hall to an opera house styled after classic European halls. The hall is equally suited for all forms of performing arts—from amplified rock concerts to opera productions, symphonic orchestra concerts and ballet performances—and can also easily accommodate flat-floor events.

Accessibility challenges included the integration of eight wheelchair and companion seat positions in the theater. A successful design-engineer collaboration between Theater Projects and Gala Systems led to innovative technical solutions, such as custom-designed automated stairs and a rotating guardrail, all seamlessly integrated into the architecture. No effort was spared to develop the narrowest automated row platform to date, a necessity to convert the last row of seating.

* Variable stage extensions and orchestra pit sizes  made possible through 21 rows of automated seating risers – powered by mechanical lift columns, called Spiralifts®
* More than 400 reconfigurable seats which can be either automatically deployed via a rotation system or stored in an inverted position under the floor when not required – auditorium seats provided by Series Seating
* Rapid automated transformation within 10 to 15 minutes at the touch of a button
* Maximized transformability with minimal manpower, thanks to several incorporated hall accessories, such as an automated rotating guardrail and access steps
* Prime sightlines for every guest

Pushing the boundaries of innovation in performance spaces, Steinmetz Hall can transform itself to optimally showcase a wide range of performances, including opera, ballet, modern rock and symphonic music. Further, Theater Projects are confident that the short conversion turnaround time will minimize downtime and maximize use and revenue. This unique world-class hall is bound to contribute to the recognition of the Dr. Philipps Center as a dynamic cultural destination for Orlando residents and tourists from around the world.