by Lee Hogan
Posted 7/1/2014 11:56 am
Updated 3 weeks ago
Tuesday marks the temporary closing of the Robinson Center Music Hall in downtown Little Rock for a $68 million renovation project.
The overhaul will increase the building's size from 133,500-SF to 138,000-SF, in addition to restoring the exterior, re-working audience entrances, improving performance hall acoustics and seating, upgrading the loading area and building a new conference center and grand hall on the north side of the performance hall.
More: Click here to view the renovation plans (PDF).
The upgrades to the Robinson Center are expected to be completed in time for the auditorium to reopen fall 2016.
The renovated performance hall will feature multiple lobbies at various levels. In addition to its historic lobby, there will be street-level and lower lobbies, and a box office below and an upper lobby above.
The lobby changes are hoped to improve access. According to plans for the construction, the lobby space will increase from 9,246-SF to 20,500-SF.
Inside the auditorium, the stage will be dropped 36 feet to the structures ground level, which is currently occupied by a conference room, to increase the acoustics and improve the sight lines for patrons.
The renovation will also add a four-stage grid and cat-walks for increased production capabilities, and create two balcony levels with theater box seating along the walls. With the overhaul, the auditorium will lose about 500 seats to 2,120.
On the north side of the structure, a ballroom and conference center that overlook the Arkansas River will be constructed. Also, increased loading capacity will be added.
Among other improvements are expanded restrooms, a permanent box office, additional monitors and technology throughout the facility, two new entrance vestibules from the adjoining parking garage and built-in concession and merchandise areas.
Little Rock voters approved in December a plan to use a portion of the city's existing 2 percent restaurant and hotel tax to repay bonds for a renovation of the performing arts center.