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Shall We Build a Big Pavilion?

by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: May 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm •  Published: March 21, 2009


The 11,000 person seating area at the Pritzker Pavilion is covered with criss-crossing pipes that support the Pavilion’s high-end sound system. The speakers distribute the sound evenly across all the seating and the performance is comparable to indoor concert hall.



“How do you make everyone – not just the people in the seats, but the people sitting 400 feet away on the lawn – feel good about coming to this place to listen to music? And the answer is, you bring them into it. You make the proscenium larger; you build a trellis with a distributed sound system. You make people feel part of the experience.”
-Frank Gehry


Sometimes one can get too ambitious with a blog. I fear I did just that this past week. No, I’m pretty happy with the Planning for the Future series. It’s Millennium Park that has me shaken.

How does one begin to explain Millennium Park and how it relates to Oklahoma City’s future?

Let’s start with bits and pieces, beginning with the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. I don’t know who Jay was or is, but the pavilion is incredible.


Internationally renown architect Frank Gehry designed a pavilion that stands 120-feet high, with a billowing headdress of brushed stainless steel ribbons that frame the stage opening and connect to an overhead trellis of crisscrossing steel pipes. The trellis supports the sound system, which spans the 4,000 fixed seats and the Great Lawn, which accommodates an additional 7,000 people.

This state-of-the-art sound system, the first of its kind in the country, was designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor concert hall by distributing enhanced sound equally over both the fixed seats and the lawn.

The land being assembled by the city in Core to Shore could conceivable include an amphitheater of its own. Maybe the venue will overlook the river – something envisioned since the grand plan for the Oklahoma River was drawn up as part of the Metropolitan Area Projects.


But what would this venue ultimately become? Would it supplant the beloved (yet much smaller) zoo amphitheater? Or would we see this venue give birth to an entirely new calendar of events we don’t see currently? Could we see the Oklahoma City Philharmonic brought to the masses on a regular basis? Could this amphitheater become home to a weekly farmer’s market/swap meet? Carnivals? How could a venue like this bring together northside, southside, eastside and westside?


When Mayor Mick Cornett mentions a venue like Millennium Park as an inspiration for what’s ahead, it’s difficult to believe the Pritzker Pavilion isn’t part of that dream.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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