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Harris Concert Hall

Harris Concert Hall is a five hundred seat venue for the performance and rehearsal of music.  Located on a campus of one story buildings designed by the late Bauhaus architect Herbert Bayer, adjacent to a low, two thousand seat tent used for music every summer day by a world renowned Music Festival, the new hall attempts to enhance the virtues of its beautiful setting.  With most of its 20,000 S.F. and large volume required for acoustics submerged underground, the visible portion of the structure defers to the importance of the tent while maintaining an identity of its own.  The white folding tent like roof rests on a spherical mound of grass, a larger version of the mounds in Anderson Park, an earth work by Bayer.  Asymmetric forms of the new structure radiate from the center of the symmetrical tent like a modern cadenza for a classical piece.


A courtyard between and lobby with roll up doors can be used by both the tent and the hall during intermissions.

The hall itself is a large wooden instrument, buried and sheltered by the outer shell, as important to the musical experience as the instruments being played.  The shape and proportions of this room are close to the traditional "shoe box", but departs from normal practice with its asymmetry, one of several innovative measures to improve the acoustic environment.  Cherry and maple veneer inside and out contrasts with the mineral materials of the shell to heighten the perception of the hall as an instrument as well as enhancing the quality of the sound.  Large panels on the back of the platform fold and roll forward while an overhead canopy lowers, to create a chamber-like setting for smaller ensembles.  Unique plaster ceiling panels substitute for greater hall volume by diffusing and directing sound.  Absorbent panels slide out of pockets in the wall to lessen resonance for smaller groups and recordings.


While placing the hall underground was primarily a response to physical context, it has provided other benefits as well.  The double-walled, submerged construction creates an ideally quiet environment for performance and recording, and allows activities in the new hall and the tent to happen simultaneously.  In addition, the acoustic isolation and insulation combined with minimal exposed surfaces create an unusually stable thermal environment.  An "intelligent" monitoring mechanical system anticipates needs and available outside air temperatures to minimize energy required for heating and cooling. 


As much for economy as for aesthetics, for compatibility as for function, for flexibility as for clear purpose Harris Hall embodies and addresses the design dilemmas of our time. It attempts to find a positive direction from these seeming conflicting dichotomies.


Merit Award, AIA Western Mountain Region, 1995

Citation Award, Interior, AIA Denver Chapter, 1995

Merit Award, Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), 1994

Special Mention, AIA Colorado West, Harris Concert Hall, 1993


Contract Furniture, Harris Hall, 1996

Architecture Magazine, "Musical Excavation", December 1993

The New Yorker, "Musical Underground," September 6, 1993

Aspen Magazine, "The Ground-Breaking Architecture of Harry Teague," Midsummer 1993

Project Directory

Architect: Harry Teague Architects

Structural Engineer: TSDC of Colorado (now KL+A)

Mechanical Engineer: Engineering Economics

Accoustic/Sound Engineer: Cohen Acoustical, Charles Salter & Associates

 General Contractor: Shaw Construction

Landscape Architect: Design Workshop Inc.

Photography: Tim Hursley

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