30 May 2008

Symphony Hall and the ICC

Symphony Hall is siuated inside the International Convention Centre (ICC), although the Hall is a big part of it, as can be seen from its more prominent lettering on the front.

The building took just under four and a half years to complete and was opened in 1991. The venue was used for the 1998 G8 summit.

Symphony Hall seats 2262 people and was very carefully designed so that quiet solos and full-strength orchestras could be heard equally well by all members of the audience. This is achieved using highly accurate shaping of the walls and ceiling, moveable curtains and adjustable reverberation chambers. Above the stage there is also a thirty-two tonne counter-balanced canopy which can be raised and lowered; this too alters the acoustics. The ventilation system uses large, slow ducts to minimise noise and both the building and nearby railway line are laid on rubber cushions, to the same effect.

The hall is the base of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra but is not only used for concerts, but also for conferences, graduation ceremonies and other similar events (about 270 per year).

Previously, the site was the location of Bingley Hall (before that, Bingley House) which was built in 1850 but damaged by fire in January 1984 during a Midland Caravan, Camping and Leisure Exhibition and subsequently demolished.

Bingley Hall was used for the Birmingham Dog Show, various other shows, for circuses, boxing, theatre, cinema, competitions and conferences.

Also on the site was the Prince of Wales Theatre, some houses, an in and a brewery.

In front of the bulding on one side is Centenary Square which is also the location of the Hall of Memory, the Flame of Hope and the Boulton, Watt and Murdoch statue, Birmingham Repertory theatre, the Industry and Genius sculpture and the Spirit & Enterprise fountain.

On the other side is the Birmingham and Worcester canal and Brindleyplace; an 'award-winning leisure and business destination' with various attractions.

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