the University of Chicago: Mandel Hall
Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge’s 1903 Mandel Hall is the largest assembly hall on the University of Chicago campus, with a capacity of approximately 680 seats. The University restored the grand interior of historic hall appropriate for a “front door” to the University.
The project included a fire protection system discretely introduced into the structure. Sprinkler piping was inserted from above the historic interior features and finishes from the attic and through the balcony floors. New reflectors, lighting and seating have resulted in an improved environment. Additionally, all surfaces were repaired and refinished with historically accurate stenciling, new carpeting and drapes.
To address acoustic performance, existing over-stage reflectors were replaced in a new configuration to better support ensembles and energize the upper volume of the room critical to distributing sound across the space, resulting in increased coverage on the main floor and into the balcony. The new orchestra lighting, mounted within the reflectors, provides a higher level of illumination and uniformity to support the orchestra and improve the audience's view of the performers without impacting the ceiling.
The classically designed audience seating on the main floor and balcony provides greater comfort. The new balcony box seats are replications of the original. All finishes, including replication of the stenciling, were based on historic evidence and were replicated to return the auditorium it its original appearance.
Acoustical Consultant: Threshold Acoustics, LLC
Theater Lighting and Seating Consultant: Schuler Shook
Structural Engineering Consultant: Rubinos & Mesia, Engineers, Inc.
Electrical Engineering Consultant: L'Acquis
Fire Protection Design: BSA LifeStructures
Photos: Leslie Schwartz Photography
Historic Photo: University of Chicago Photographic Archive File