Benaroya Hall is the home of the Seattle Symphony. Located between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, and Union and University Streets, it is situated in the heart of Downtown Seattle. Designed by Mark Reddington of LMN Architects and acoustician Cyril Harris, the hall was completed and opened in 1998.
The orchestra had dreamed of its own hall for many years. The Opera House, where we formerly played, was built as a “multi-purpose” hall, and its acoustics were not optimal for symphonic music.
Although various plans and campaigns to build a concert hall specifically for the Seattle Symphony were started across the years, it was not until 1993, when Jack and Becky Benaroya came forward with a $15 million donation from the Benaroya Foundation, that the dream became a reality. Five very intense years of planning and building ensued, and the musicians were graciously included in every step of the way, from planning backstage warm up areas, the music library, the upholstery on the seats in the auditorium, and even the carpeting in the Grand Lobby.
While we primarily play in the Taper Auditorium, which seats about 2500, Benaroya Hall also contains the 540 seat Nordstrom Recital Hall, which provides a much-needed medium-sized venue for the city. Other features of the hall include the magnificent Watjen Concert Organ; Soundbridge, our education center; the Grand Lobby; the Boeing Gallery, complete with two Dale Chihuly chandeliers; the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial to veterans; and, since we are in Seattle, multiple coffee shops.
We believe that our hall is one of the very best in the country. It was created to provide a unique, memorable experience for both performers and audiences – and, of course, it sounds great. Come hear us soon!
If Benaroya Hall is our home, then Marion Oliver McCaw Hall is certainly our “home away from home.” Approximately 15% of our workload is playing for the Seattle Opera, which holds its performances in McCaw Hall, designed by Owen Richards and Mark Reddington of LMN Architects.
The original venue for the Opera was the Civic Auditorium, constructed in 1927. It was funded initially by a saloon owner’s bequest of $20,000 to the city to build a hall for civic and artistic purposes. The advent of the 1962 World's Fair brought an external facelift to the old Auditorium, with substantial interior improvements, along with a new name – the Seattle Opera House.
With the approach of the 21st century, it was apparent that the old building was deficient structurally, aesthetically, and artistically. A major campaign was launched by Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet (the two primary tenants of the hall), as well as the Seattle Center, to upgrade and transform the old building.
The project was energized by a lead gift of $20 million from Bruce, Craig, John, and Keith McCaw of McCaw Cellular Communications, in honor of their mother’s lifelong support of the arts. It is the largest arts or cultural capital gift ever made in the Pacific Northwest, and was supplemented by The Kreielsheimer Foundation’s substantial gift of $10 million. Additional funding came from Seattle voters’ approval of Proposition One bonds in 1999.
Over 70% of McCaw Hall is new construction, including a new auditorium and lobbies, greatly improved backstage area and a state-of-the-art orchestra pit. The reshaped auditorium improves sightlines and creates a more intimate feeling for the audience, in addition to providing incredible acoustics, thanks to Jaffe Holden Acoustics.
We are proud to be part of Seattle Opera and thrilled to be able to work at McCaw Hall.