The new William M. Lowman Concert Hall on the campus of Idyllwild Arts.Photos by Marshall Smith
The new William M. Lowman Concert Hall on the campus of Idyllwild Arts. Photos by Marshall Smith

The Idyllwild Arts Foundation celebrates 70 years of campus history in 2016 that began in 1946 with the founding of the Summer Program. As Idyllwild Arts begins a year of anniversary commemorations, the William M. Lowman Concert Hall, currently under construction, is poised to play a prominent part in hosting 2016 celebratory events.

IAF President Pamela Jordan believes the new concert venue, given its state of the art architectural design and acoustical engineering, will become a regional concert destination known for its innovative architecture, the brilliance of its acoustics and world class jazz and classical music programming. A series of anniversary concerts will formally open the hall once it is completed.

John Newman, IAA Director of Business Operations.
John Newman, IAA Director of Business Operations.

Named after IAA’s first headmaster, the William M. Lowman Concert Hall is designed by award winning architect Whitney Sander. Sander Architects, headquartered in Venice, California, have won many awards including two Dedalo Minosse International Prizes and numerous American Institute of Architects accolades. Sander building designs are often featured in Dwell, a prestigious industry magazine.

Lowman Hall is acoustically engineered by ARUP North America, the firm responsible for the designs of the world famous Sydney (Australia) Opera House, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Modern in London.

ARUP specializes in designs for art and culture venues. ARUP calls its key concern as a firm, designing “spaces that perform as well as the artists themselves.”“The hall will be different from anything else on our campus, blending both traditional and modern design elements,” said John Newman, IAA Director of Business Operations. “It is specifically designed to showcase music. The hall’s acoustical properties have been inspired by the most renowned halls in the world. The landscape plan and elements will be as much of an artistic experience as coming to the hall itself.” Landscape elements feature indigenous, drought-resistant native plantings, an oak grove and solar-powered illuminated walkways leading to outdoor areas that will serve as a central campus quad and gathering space for the school community. Newman also said the landscape plan includes circular depressions in the ground, seating areas that are designed to resemble Cahuilla mortar grinding stones. Idyllwild Arts has a long Native American teaching tradition and heritage dating back to the earliest days of the campus.

Newman noted the concert hall’s silhouette and shape evoke Idyllwild’s iconic Tahquitz Rock, which it faces to the east. “The hall will be sheathed in 67 thousand pounds of rusted Cor-ten steel panels that blend with the cedar siding of surrounding campus buildings,” said Newman. The rusted panels will weather and change their patina over time, adding to the artistic allure of the building’s exterior.

“The interior finish will include hundreds of kiln-dried Douglas fir beams that are designed to approximate the densely wooded forests of the San Jacinto Mountains. Eighty wooden ‘ribs’ are hung vertically along each side of the hall and connect across the ceiling in a saw-tooth pattern, each beam placed at specific and varying angles that are not only aesthetically captivating but contribute to the finest acoustic effect,” said Newman.

Lowman Concert Hall will seat 298 in a raked audience area. The performance stage is 60 percent larger than the current IAF stage in the Bowman Arts Center (1,820 sq. feet compared to the current 1,100 sq. feet.) As a result of the increase, the Lowman Hall stage will be able to accommodate a full symphony orchestra and chorus. Backstage will include an artists’ entrance and a green room with a floor to ceiling window facing out to the campus and wooded areas. The new concert hall will also host jazz concerts and chamber music performances.

Sander Architects’ design calls for an adjacent theatre to complete the performing arts complex once it is financed and built.