The building has over 40,000 square feet of glass, most of which is in the great lobby – an expansive portico of glass and steel that bridges the two theaters and shields guests from the elements. Its partial glass envelope allows for an ever-changing display of light and shadow play. Outside, the 27 high-tension steel cables which anchor the stunning glass facade resemble a giant stringed instrument.
The Kauffman’s Helzberg Hall is home to the Kansas City Symphony, and it hosts orchestral, pop, and jazz performances, as well as lectures and recitals. The 1,600-seat venue is oval in shape, with a vineyard-style seating configuration that allows for the farthest seat to only be about 100 feet from the stage. The stage extends approximately one-third of the distance into the Hall, thus placing 40 percent of the seats alongside or behind the orchestra. This creates an intimate and immersive experience for both artists and audiences and allows a portion of the audience to experience the musician’s perspective during performance.
The pièce de résistance of Helzberg Hall is a Casavant Frères pipe organ, which is one of the finest concert hall organs in the country. The Quebec-based firm custom designed the mechanical organ in the French romantic tradition, with 79 stops, 102 ranks, and 5,548 pipes. This past Saturday, the organ was inaugurated by James David Christie in a sold-out organ dedication concert.
All photos by Nathaniel Ross for Inhabitat