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The Future of Powell Hall

News + Updates

Project Updates

June 2, 2023

As construction progresses on the backstage expansion of Powell Hall, decisions about the new front of house expansion–which includes a new lobby and Education and Learning Center–continue. On June 2, SLSO leaders and project representatives–including architects from Snøhetta, the project's lead architecture firm–reviewed a mock up of bricks for the façade of the new entry lobby. The mock up depicted possible colors and textures of the brick considered in relation to Powell Hall's current brick façade, which will not change. The façade's aesthetic appeal was carefully selected to complement Powell Hall, which has been of the National Register of Historic Places since 2001.

The SLSO has hired John J. Smith Masonry, a local company, for the project's masonry needs. The samples will be refined over the next few months until masonry work begins on the back of house expansion later this year. Experts masons will lay by hand each brick on the new lobby, which features elegant curves reminiscent of the shape of a violin.

June 1, 2023

While Powell Hall's auditorium will look mostly the same once renovated, there will be at least one noticeable change: new seats. Larger, more comfortable seats will fill the space, providing additional leg room. The seats will share a similar aesthetic to the original seats (we're keeping that iconic red), which were nearly entirely removed by June 1.

With the seats removed, renovations can begin on the interior of Powell Hall, including relocating noisy mechanical systems away from the auditorium, softening the steepness of the balcony, adding additional safety measures, and creating a more accessible layout for people with mobility needs.

May 19, 2023

Since the final concert at Powell Hall as you know it on May 14, there has been a buzz of activity as the staff moves out of the hall and the building is prepared for renovation work in the interior.

Excavation continued to the east of the building and piers were drilled to prepare for the new basement foundation. The first phase of construction includes the erection of a new backstage building to provide updated and new amenities for SLSO musicians and guest artists.

With public events completed for the season, work inside picked up tempo: librarians packed up all of the institution's precious music, staff members loaded boxes and moved furniture to temporary offices, autographed headshots were carefully prepped for storage, work on and around the Emerson Concert Stage accelerated, and some of the iconic red velvet auditorium seats were removed.

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May 14, 2023

Assistant Conductor Stephanie Childress led the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra for the final concert in Powell Hall before the expansion and renovation project closes the historic venue until 2025. At the final concert, the SLSO celebrated the talents of these talented student musicians, as well as our dedicated front of house team, who work tirelessly to make concert experiences safe and welcoming.

When it reopens in 2025, Powell Hall will still feel elegant—we’re keeping the chandeliers, red velvet, and special details we all love—but will be more accessible, have more amenities for audiences and musicians, and also will more fully connect with the community through new spaces including thededicated Education and Learning Center.

In the meantime, the SLSO will be performing in venues throughout St. Louis. You can learn more about those locations and our 2023/2024 season here.

April 11, 2023

The SLSO will remain busy during the expansion and renovation of Powell Hall, performing at our two primary "home away from home" venues—Touhill Performing Arts Center and Stifel Theatre—as well as at other locations throughout the St. Louis region, including the Sheldon Concert Hall, Lindenwood University’s J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts, and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. We also will continue toshare music in schools, houses of worship, and other public spaces—including Forest Park.

New banners at Powell Hall serve as a reminder that you can still hear the music you love performed by your SLSO over the next two years.

New banners were installed at Powell Hall.

April 3, 2023

While the orchestra acts an ambassador for the St. Louis region in Europe, construction work has ramped up at Powell Hall. Excavation work has begun on the new backstage expansion, which will provide much-needed amenities for orchestra members and guest artists, to maintain the orchestra as an international destination for musicians.

Meanwhile, SLSO staff are moving out of Powell Hall, part of a months-long process to carefully save and preserve the orchestra’s vibrant history. One item that received special attention is Music Director Stéphane Denève’s piano.

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March 21, 2023

After years of planning with an international design team of experts, the expansion and renovation of Powell Hall is underway. On Monday, March 21, BSI Constructors—the project’s construction manager—began loading in heavy equipment as the orchestra prepared to depart for a four-country, five-city European tour.

BSI will fence off the site in preparation for the first phase of the project, which includes excavating to the east of the current building to prepare for laying the foundation of the new backstage expansion.