The New Jacobs Music Center
Built in 1929. Renovated 2021-2023.
The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center, home of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, is a world-class facility that can host concerts, comedy shows, corporate & civic events, film screenings and more inside its performance chamber, known as Copley Symphony Hall.
Once reopened in the 2023-24 season, the new hall will be equipped with state-of-the-art digital sound and lighting technology, and will have a capacity of up to 1823 patrons. Embedded inside the performance chamber is a full-sized Robert Morton pneumatic pipe organ.
The Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall began life as The Fox Theatre movie palace in 1929, part of the famous nationwide Fox Theatres chain. It became the property of the San Diego Symphony in 1984 and was extensively renovated at that time.
In early 2022, the San Diego Symphony made the decision to take on a major project to restore and renovate its historic home, the Jacobs Music Center, as a long-term commitment to the vitality of downtown San Diego and an investment in the artistic ambitions of the orchestra. The project honors the history of the Jacobs Music Center’s building, while greatly enhancing the musical and performance experience for artists and audiences alike, resulting in a premier venue for music presentations
The revitalization of Jacobs Music Center, designed by architecture firm, HGA, in collaboration with acoustical consultant, Akustiks, and theatre planner, Schuler Shook, will include:
- The reconfiguration of the stage
- The addition of a choral terrace behind the orchestra, which will allow for performances of large orchestral programs featuring chorus or as a new audience seating option
- New finishes and seating
- State-of-the-art lighting, sound and video equipment
- Superior acoustics for both performers and audiences
- Modernization and expansion of support spaces for musicians
- Enhancement of audience amenities throughout Jacobs Music Center
June saw huge progress with the renovation of Jacobs Music Center. The permanent shell walls are being constructed around the stage. The erection of six new floors over stage left and right are complete. These new floors will house offices, much needed instrument storage, the music library, and a new entrance for our musicians. For the first time we are also able to appreciate the view from the Juliet balconies back into the hall. Drywall has been installed in the lower-level musicians lounge and dressing rooms, and much of the main level, including the new multi-purpose room (pictured right) which will be located off the lower lobby. Mechanical systems, electrical, and plumbing work has been completed in most areas. Over the summer we look forward to beginning the installation of decorative finishes.
In January 2023 we began framing out the new walls in the seating areas and completed construction of the new seating levels. Steel was erected over the stage right wings to build out our multi-level performance support spaces and the concrete floor poured. These new spaces will house a new music library, offices and most importantly, a new artist entrance. Steel work has now begun over the stage right wings. Below the stage, framing is complete for the new musicians lounge, locker rooms and practice rooms.
The Symphony saw huge progress in the Jacobs Music Center renovation. The stage is back! Steel structure arrived and was installed in the lower level below the stage, and stage has now been re-decked and concrete has been poured. The seating area on the main level has been reformed to improve sightlines including a cross-aisle, a new parterre seating section under the balcony and side galleries. This was accomplished with more than 12 separate concrete pours throughout the month of October.
In July we saw several large concrete pours in the basement. These integral foundations will support the new structure that will form the stage, musicians lounge, dressing rooms, practice rooms, choral terrace, music library, and offices. Steel for these new spaces will begin arriving on site in August, which will mark a very exciting phase of this project. Additionally, historic preservationists will soon begin restoration and retrofitting of our beautiful chandeliers. And fabric has been ordered for the new audience seating.
Demolition and construction work is well underway. The basement under the hall has been successfully excavated and a concrete foundation has been poured to support the new stage structure.
Additionally, extensive underground plumbing is now in place for the enlarged musicians changing rooms and lounge. Later in July we can expect to see an additional concrete slab poured in the basement, with steel arriving in August. Large transfer beams are now in place over the proscenium and upstage wall which will allow for the removal of two columns upstage and the addition of our brand-new choral terrace. These same beams will also allow the valance in the proscenium arch to be removed, opening the stage to the full height of the proscenium for the first time in our stage’s history. In the “house,” we have now removed our old seats and are preparing for the installation of new seating that will offer a more comfortable audience experience and improved sightlines. Lastly, new air handlers have been installed with state-of-the-art air purifying technology, allowing for the highest air quality and flow throughout Jacobs Music Center.
Inside Jacobs Music Center:
CEO Martha Gilmer sits down to chat with special guests about the renovations at Jacobs Music Center.