Prepare to be Bowled over

May 29, 2013 

New LED screens premiered at the Hollywood Bowl during last month's Korean Music Festival.

It’s showtime. State of the art LED screens, custom-designed furniture for picnicking with pizzazz and a striking new wine bar will greet Hollywood Bowl patrons this summer—part of an amenities infusion that also includes a new sound system.

Clearly, the county-owned Bowl, recently recognized by Pollstar magazine as the nation’s best major outdoors concert venue for the ninth straight year, isn’t resting on its laurels.

“I think we’re really lucky because we start with a great experience, and a great venue people love,” said Gail Samuel, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which operates the bowl under a long-term lease with the county. But “staying competitive in the concert business” is essential, she said.

“The way people want to experience things has evolved, so we want to provide as many options as possible and…stay up with the most advanced technology,” she said.

The new sound system and LED screens made their Bowl debut during the Korean Music Festival, a lease event last month, and also will be up and running for other pre-season lease events including Fleetwood Mac on May 25 and Andrea Boccelli on June 8. The new furniture and wine bar will be making their bow in time for the Bowl’s official opening night, June 22. (Tickets for the summer season are on sale now online or at the Bowl box office.)

When the season starts, patrons coming up the Peppertree Lane hill toward the amphitheater will be greeted by an almost continuous row of new dark wood benches specially designed to allow for level seating on a slope. Other new pieces include deep platforms that will provide seating for large picnic groups of six to eight people. Additional picnic-friendly elements include benches with small built-in tables of powder-coated stainless steel in a signature “caper berry” green.

Specially-designed furniture will make it easier for Bowl patrons to get their picnic on. Image/Rios Clementi Hale

Julie Smith-Clementi of Rios Clementi Hale Studios, which oversaw the furniture project, including benches it designed for the site with manufacturer Forms and Surfaces, spent time at the Bowl last season observing how people staked out pre-concert space on the grounds. She said it was disconcerting to see patrons desperate for a place to park their picnic baskets.

“So many people were just throwing blankets onto the asphalt,” she said. “One woman was running from one area to the next, trying to find a table.”

The infusion of new furniture will expand seating at the site significantly—from about 2,001 to 2,855, a 43% increase.

Meanwhile, those who prefer a pre-concert glass of champagne to a picnic on a bench will likely be making a beeline for the new wine bar designed by Callas Architects, already being billed as “a new ‘meet-up’ landmark location.” The wine bar, next to the Bowl’s marketplace, perches above the popcorn stand, which also has been stylishly redesigned.

Barbara Callas, the architect, said she aspired to “a modernist classicism for a world-class singular amphitheater.”

“The concession space of spherical canopies mirrors the Bowl’s geometry and creates a dramatic new entry,” Callas said in a statement.

Inside the amphitheater itself, the four new LED screens stand ready to brightly beam the onstage action—in wide screen, high definition format—to patrons throughout the venue, from the boxes to the back benches. They’re designed to provide high-resolution images even in the daytime.

“The thing about the old screens is you can’t see them when it’s not completely dark,” said Samuel, the Philharmonic’s COO. “With these screens in broad daylight, we can run them and it’s a beautiful clear picture. So when our shows start at 8 or 7:30 and it’s still kind of dusk, you’ll see them from the very beginning.”

Also new this summer: an L-Acoustics K1 loudspeaker system to replace the venue’s old sound system, which had been in place since 2004. The K1 is expected to provide higher quality sound and more advanced speaker technology.

The 2013 improvements follow last year’s introduction of colorful, redesigned restrooms and a new moving walkway at the Bowl’s main entrance.

Funding for the LED screens and park furniture was provided by the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Proposition A funds. The wine bar and loudspeaker system were underwritten by the Philharmonic.

Rendering copyright Barbara Callas A.I.A. architect and principal-in-charge of the Hollywood Bowl wine bar project

Posted 5/8/13

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