The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park (a.k.a. “The Shell”), the San Diego Symphony’s brand new, cutting-edge venue will be the first permanent, year-round waterfront concert and events venue in the nation operated by a symphony orchestra. As concertgoers eagerly return to live events, the facility anticipates swaths of people flocking to attend the array of events scheduled to take place along San Diego Bay in Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Faced with the task of providing versatile, temporary staging solutions to comfortably accommodate a varied range of performances and guests, The Shell design team turned to Staging Concepts, a leading manufacturer of custom portable staging solutions for all types of venues. Architect Tucker Sadler and theater consultant, Schuler Shook, tapped Staging Concepts’ more than 30-years of experience in performance theater spatial planning to custom design and fabricate a system of 92 platforms for the elite entertainment venue’s orchestra and seating risers.
Soundforms and its London partners Flanagan Lawrence, Expedition and ES Global are the designers of the performance shell of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. The performance shell is an upscaled, customized, permanent version of the award-winning 2012 mobile acoustic performance shell (MAPS), expanded to accommodate the full San Diego Symphony Orchestra, a chorus and soloists.
Designed by Schuler Shook based on the needs of the orchestra, the system is comprised of Staging Concepts’ SC90 single-sided, portable platforms, which are well-known for their strength, versatility and durability. Featuring aluminum extruded frames and backers with HDPE finishes, the platforms can easily be reconfigured or removed based on the event or performance. Moreover, they are built using structural plywood with black polypropylene surface laminate to resist scuffing. They are also lightweight for easy movement and engineered to withstand the San Diego heat. Due to the unique shape of The Shell, some platforms were custom designed to match the beauty and elegance of the structure.
In addition to the portable platforms, Staging Concepts also provided 6,000 red chairs to give the venue a pop of color, and designed 288 table (“tablet”) attachments to add a premium quality experience to select seating areas at The Shell. The customized extensions provide a convenient surface for refreshments, event programs or loose items such as keys, wallets or cell phones. The tablets fold away when not in use to facilitate ingress and egress or may be removed altogether to accommodate alternate seating formats. Additionally, Staging Concepts created carts specially designed to easily transport the platforms and seating attachments to and from the site.
The Shell will host up to 110 events a year by the San Diego Symphony and other organizations, such as convention groups, outside promoters, and other public and private groups. On days when concerts are not scheduled, up to 85 percent of the park will be open to the public. The San Diego Symphony also has a partnership with the city’s Major League Baseball team – the Padres – and will work closely with the neighboring San Diego Convention Center, nearby hotels and the San Diego Tourism Bureau to maximize use of the venue by tourists and residents alike.
“The Rady Shell, being the first of its kind, posed some technically challenging tasks. While many others shied away from these challenges, Staging Concepts proudly stepped up with innovative and creative ideas. I can confidently say that working alongside both their engineering and sales team was a pleasure; all members were prompt, knowledgeable and collaborative. Tucker Sadler Architects looks forward to once again working with Staging Concepts in the future.”
Sal Villanueva, Architect / Tucker Sadler Architects