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Total Structures Bowls into Hollywood (06-29-04)
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In mid July 2003, MICE Creative awarded Total Structures the contract to fabricate the elliptical acoustic canopy which is flown under the new Hollywood Bowl structure in Los Angeles, California.

The former Bowl dates back to the late 1920s and several attempts have been made over the years to improve the acoustics so that members of the orchestra could hear each other. The last incarnation included the installation of 11 fiberglass spheres of various sizes under the direction of renowned expressionist postmodern architect, Frank Gehry.

The Design Architects for the new facility Hodgetts + Fung Design Associates with Gruen Associates acting as Project Architect for the main client and owner, Los Angeles County.

The project, with the grand title of the "Acoustical Rehabilitation of the Hollywood Bowl", essentially comprised demolishing the existing Bowl and rebuilding from the ground up. The buildings on either side of the main roof structure house new dressing rooms and production areas. It is interesting to note that the old structure could fit inside the new Bowl with some twenty feet to spare!

The main contractor, MATT Construction started demolition in October 2003 and prepared the site for the construction of the new facility.

The new Bowl incorporates a radical acoustical approach developed by Chris Jaffe of Jaffe Holden Acoustics, Inc. Large panels hinge on the bottom chord of the cross stage trusses and deflect the sound back down to the stage in a controlled way.

The new acoustic canopy measures some 78 feet by 68 feet and is supported at a 10 degree angle below the main roof structure by inclined tubular steel struts. The principal components of the canopy are an elliptical perimeter ladder truss with integral catwalk, four cross stage triangular trusses which support acoustic panels and three lighting battens.

The perimeter truss has curved 6" x 6" square aluminum chords with 3" x 3" diagonals and 6" 3" vertical members onto which ribbed plates are bolted to form the supports for a continuous open grid aluminum catwalk. These ribs are formed from aluminum plate that was water jet cut to the correct profile and provide support for the curved fiber glass panels which cover the underside of the ellipse.

The side sections of the perimeter truss weigh about 3000 pounds and can be lowered to stage level (and removed on large custom built carts) to allow conventional lighting grids to be rigged from the points provided on the steel arch trusses of the main roof structure. In contrast, the front and rear sections are permanently fixed to the main roof structure with large tubular steel struts.

Four large triangular trusses span across stage between elements of the perimeter truss and carry the main hinged acoustic panels. These panels are fabricated with aluminum ribs which support matte Makrolon panels on one side. They are a similar cross section to an aircraft wing and can be deployed at various angles using remote controlled linear actuators. The trusses comprise 4" x 4" square aluminum chords with 2" square secondary members and the end sections are designed to hinge down, so that the truss better fits the profile of the domed main roof structure when it is raised into its storage position. Each section of truss weighs about 250 pounds.

Three lighting battens are also provided. These are essentially large ladder trusses that span between sections of the perimeter truss. Again, the chords are 4" x 4" square aluminum with 2" diagonals with the galvanized steel lighting bar being supported from the bottom chord. The battens can also be raised above the perimeter ring truss and stored high into the main roof structure.

The side sections of the perimeter truss and the cross stage trusses are supported by 3/8" Dy-Form 6 steel wire rope controlled by 6000 lb capacity drum winches located on either side of the stage between the main structural support trusses of the new roof. The rigging and control system were designed and installed by Proskenion Design, LLC and LA Propoint, Inc.

Total Structures worked closely throughout the design phase with Hopper Elmore and Associates who were the Engineer of Record for the canopy. The interaction of the main roof structure and the acoustic canopy presented a number of interesting structural engineering problems particular when seismic and wind forces were considered.

The test build of the canopy at the film studios at Playa Vista in Los Angeles and the installation of the canopy structure at the Bowl were undertaken by International Rigging Inc. The project was completed in early June 2004 and was handed over to the Client in time for the first show on June 19 and the Opening Night on June 25. The new Hollywood Bowl is scheduled to be used for a number of high profile shows over the summer season including performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other classical concerts as well as presentations of jazz, world music and special events such as Simon and Garfunkel, Eric Clapton, Sting, Rod Stewart, The Who and Norah Jones.

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