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RNCM concert hall opens to great praise

The Royal Northern College of Music celebrated the opening of its new concert hall on 22 March with a performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.

BDP was architect, acoustic consultant and lighting designer for the £7m redevelopment which also included associated back of house areas and the refurbishment of a 150 seat lecture theatre.

Professor Linda Merrick, RNCM Principal, said: “The acoustic in the concert hall has proved to be absolutely perfect for the Chamber Music Festival. It is simply a beautiful space to perform in; as endorsed by the internationally-renowned guest artists taking part this weekend. It is equally good for the audience, as a very clear sound wherever you are sitting draws you into the performance, and has everything from intimacy to real vibrancy.”

The concert hall is located at the centre of the college and had remained largely unchanged since the building’s construction in 1972.  The dramatic redevelopment included the construction of an additional balcony, to increase its capacity from 460 to 650 and to enable the college to maintain its international standing and provide a key large performance venue for Manchester.

Sound insulation to adjacent performance and teaching spaces was a critical consideration. To ensure that the separating double-skin wall construction was not compromised, the structural support of the new balcony was designed to sit almost entirely within the building’s original walls, incorporating a cantilevered structure and limited intrusions into the existing building fabric.  The result is an elegant design which also creates a feature at the back of the hall, highlighted with architectural lighting.