The Chautauqua Amphitheater is at the heart of its community – physically, programmatically, and emotionally – and has been since its construction in 1883. Because of its decayed condition, inaccessibility, inadequate seating capacity, poor technical and backstage support spaces, and out-of-date lighting, audio, and video systems, current programming and operating needs required a significant enlargement and facility renovation. After evaluating multiple renovation and expansion plans, the Institution decided that a new 21st Century building that preserved the feel and appearance of the existing building would best serve their needs, embracing the technology of today and serving as a platform for tomorrow, providing a welcoming and comfortable place for performers, patrons, and presenters.
The Amp is used for orchestra performances, dance concerts, pop-music concerts, opera performances, lectures, video presentations, and church services. During the 9-week summer season, there are four events per day.
The new Amp feels like the old Amp yet provides improved safety and accessibility, sightlines, load-in, and bench seating comfort. Acoustics are improved for orchestral performance, and new audio systems support other performance and presentations. Audience capacity is increased. Wood ceilings and cladding and a familiar color provide visual and aural connections to the prior Amp.
The front-of-house seats 5,000 people in an outdoor amphitheater under a roof, increasing the seating capacity by 10%. The FOH comprises 41,460 square feet. Seating surrounds the performance area. Upstage, an historic organ occupies its traditional location behind the balcony which contains general seating and which is also used as a chorus loft. A front-of-house control booth, follow-spot booth, in-house audio mix positions, and stage-side monitor mix positions are provided. An orchestra pit lift may also be used for orchestra seating and as a forestage extension.
The back-of-house support building has 3-stories of dressing rooms, rehearsal space, music library, instrument storage, and technical support spaces.
Historic approaches to the site were reshaped as community gathering areas, framing new green gathering areas. The Amp provides community connectivity to existing adjacent buildings and spaces, provides openness and free views to the Amp interior, and provides community gathering space within and around the Amp perimeter. Storm water runoff is controlled with the use of rain gardens and bio-swales, nourishing native plants and a new generation of trees.