On April 23rd, 2010, I enjoyed returning to UBC's Old Auditorium so see how the renovations are progressing. Two of my earlier blogs have pictures of the renovations as of June 23rd, 2009 and August 13th, 2009. It is hoped that the construction will be completed by the end of May or early June. Though much still needs to be done, things look very promising indeed, and my sense is that the acoustics will be much as they were before, which is good news.
The exterior of the Old Aud is purposefully unchanged, although a new loading dock with lifts has been added to the back.
The atrium will be spacious and rather more bright and inviting than its predecessor.
Work on the auditorium itself is on schedule. The aisle carpets are being laid, the finishing coats of paint are being applied to the stage walls and the face of the balcony, and the individual seats will hopefully remain protected until absolutely all of the dust has settled and the painting is completed.
The wiring for the sound booth at the back of the auditorium (its exterior seen above) will require careful work. Some of the wires have already been laid above the ceiling but others will soon be going under the auditorium's flooring.
The stage and backstage are fleshed out by now. There is enough space backstage for more than 30 flies which will accommodate the changes of scenery, all operated electrically by the pulleys on stage right. On the right of this photo are the new doors which open up to the new loading dock.
The graffiti/signatures of musicians (now alumni) have been carefully preserved, adding charm and a sense of history this campus landmark (this is but one part of one of the four backstage walls).
Now we go to the back of the backstage and look toward the auditorium from well behind where the future stage curtain will be hung.
This is how the auditorium will look to the music students performing onstage.
Returning to the atrium, we go upstairs . . . .
Entering the balcony proper, the new balcony railings are quite striking.
The balcony aisle seats will finally have proper lighting for latecomers. We can also get a sneak preview of the seat fabric. Thankfully, the backs of the seats are made of plain wood, which likely costs more but will certainly make the acoustics better.
From the balcony, the view of the main floor is wonderful, preserving the look of the beloved Old Aud, with its stately curtained windows, interesting plaster, and lovely old lights. However, those old lights never were truly adequate, so new lights and air ducts have now been added to the expansive ceiling.
By comparison, the basement is less interesting but it is nevertheless an integral part of the whole project. Going downstairs from the atrium, concert lovers will be able to attend receptions either in the large basement rehearsal room directly below the auditorium's main floor . . .
or in the future Green Room which is directly below the backstage.
Also under the stage, one can now see the lifts (behind a protective curtain) which raise and lower the orchestra pit as needed. This can apparently accommodate 20,000 pounds, but I'm not sure how many Wagnerian sopranos that would be.
This lower level also has the boiler room and, at the opposite end (under the atrium) the restrooms. Several new windowless basement rooms (not shown because the lighting is not yet installed) have been dug out from under the old front entryway. These will be used for building costumes and stage sets.
This whole renovation represents money well-spent, ensuring that the Old Aud, which meant so much to generations of UBC's alumni, will continue to be used by future generations.