Small town factory into modern multi-purpose music hall

David Manley – dmanley@dlrgroup.com

Rolando De La Cruz – rdelacruz@dlrgroup.com

DLR Group
6457 Frances Street
Omaha, NE 68106

Popular version of paper 3pAA4

Presented Wednesday afternoon, December 4, 2019

178th ASA Meeting, San Diego, CA

A former oil boomtown, El Dorado, Arkansas has a rich history, unique historic architecture, and a well-established arts and entertainment community, which includes the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the South Arkansas Arts Center, and numerous successful music festivals. Community leaders sought to develop these assets into a regional draw and community anchor. The intent is to improve the quality of life and re-brand the community as a cultural performance mecca, while also slowing the decline in population (currently at 18,500) and revitalizing the local economy.

DLR Group’s master plan and design leverages existing historic assets, including the National Register-listed Griffin Auto Building, five other legacy structures, and new construction, to create a multi-venue downtown arts and entertainment district that preserves and celebrates the unique identity of El Dorado while appealing to contemporary audiences and future generations.

Implemented in phases, the project encompasses a 125,868 SF site and comprises a 7,000-patron festival venue/amphitheater, a 2,000-seat indoor music venue, a 100-seat black box/multi-purpose room, an 850-seat multi-use theater, a restaurant/club with stage, a visual arts facility, a farmers’ market, a children’s activity center, a park, and considerable site improvements for festivals along with new structures to support that use.

Phase 1 transformed the historic Griffin Auto Building (two-level, historic filling station, automotive showroom/repair shop) into a restaurant and flat-floor, indoor music venue.

The warehouse was converted to an 1,800 seat (2,400 max. standing capacity) music venue. 

Controlling the reverberation time, the time it takes sound to decay 60 decibels in a space, was critical to the acoustical success of the music venue.  At over 18,000 square feet of floor space and nearly 600,000 cubic feet of volume, and constructed of concrete, metal deck, and masonry walls, the existing warehouse reverberation time was over 10 seconds long. 

With a desired program of top tier modern amplified shows including rock and roll, country, and comedic talent, plus the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the design goal for the renovated warehouse was 1.5 seconds in reverberation time. 

Achieving this goal required ample use of acoustically absorptive material.  After renovations to ensure the structural integrity of the existing roof were completed, and fireproofing was applied, 75% of the 30-foot-high and 96-foot-wide barrel-vaulted ceiling was covered with four-inch-thick fabric wrapped fiberglass panels.  On lower walls, perforated metal panels were used for impact protection with fiberglass insulation behind for acoustical absorption.  A total of almost 20,000 square feet of acoustically absorptive material was added to the warehouse. 

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Figure 1 – Reverberation time calculation comparison of the existing and proposed treated Warehouse

The open-air filling station was enclosed by a glass curtain wall and converted to a restaurant dining area with stage for performance of live music. 

Separating the two music venues, the showroom was partly converted to a commercial kitchen to serve the restaurant dining area, and partly converted to a VIP area for events.

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Figure 2 – Photo of Historic Filing Station, circa 1928

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Figure 3 – Photo of pre-renovation Filing Station used as covered parking in 2014

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Figure 4 – Photo of post-renovation Filing Station used as a Restaurant in 2019

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Figure 5 – Photo of Historic Warehouse Floor, circa 1928

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Figure 6 – Photo of pre-renovation Warehouse floor in 2014

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Figure 7 – Photo of post-renovation Warehouse floor and stage used as a music venue in 2019

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Figure 8 – Photo of post-renovation Warehouse Floor used as a music venue in 2019 with seats

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