Take a virtual tour of the Eccles Theater.
Also in the downtown cultural portfolio are the Utah Symphony's Abravanel Hall, two blocks northwest, and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, two blocks to the southwest, home to six dance, theater and music nonprofit arts companies.
An intimate space with nearly 2,500 seats • Opening the Eccles Theater is part of a years-long goal to create "the right-size venue for the right-size work," says Phil Jordan, director of Salt Lake County's Center for the Arts, which will operate the complex, as well as the three other downtown cultural venues. "There's not a bad seat in the house, in my opinion. This is as best an intimate setting that you can have with 2,486 chairs."
Designed by Connecticut-based Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in conjunction with the local office of HKS Architects, the theater features a soaring, light-flooded lobby six stories high, which includes public art projects in the colorful glass balconies and a marble-and-glass terrazzo floor. The lobby's entrances are walls of glass curtains that can open onto Main Street to create a space termed the Winter Garden.
The desire for a generous lobby space meant the theater was "squished" or built upward, with three balconies above the orchestra level. Those balconies contribute to what's a relatively short distance — 98 feet — from the stage to the back wall, compared with a 106-foot distance at the Capitol Theatre.
The copper- and rust-colored furnishings in the main Delta Performance Hall are meant to evoke the striated sandstone layers in southern Utah. One of the hall's most visually prominent design elements is the ceiling's star field, reminiscent of the state's wide-open night skies, even if the lighting patterns are "nonastronomically correct," says Jeff Gwilliam, the county's theater operations manager.
What's Neil deGrasse Tyson going to say about that? That's one of the joking questions Gwilliam has heard while taking people on tours of the facility, referring to the astrophysicist's upcoming February lecture at the theater.
The star field, which incorporates larger globes to represent planets, serves as a creative, yet relatively inexpensive way to dress the ceiling, while also providing a variety of lighting effects that producers could incorporate into shows. It's coupled with dramatic acrylic globe lights underneath the balconies.
"The lighting in this facility," Gwilliam says, "is very much an architectural design."
Arts in Zion • In the arts nonprofit world, producers cheer the completion of the spectacular complex at the same time they worry about competition for ticket sales, particularly in the holiday season.
"What I hope it will do is invigorate more people to go to live performances all the time," says R. Scott Phillips, retiring executive director at Cedar City's Utah Shakespeare Festival, which opened two new theaters in the $39 million Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts this summer.