© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Columbus Symphony Orchestra wants to build $275 million performance space

A rendering for the Columbus Center for Music Innovation and Education performance venue for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
Columbus Symphony Orchestra
A rendering for the Columbus Center for Music Innovation and Education performance venue for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra unveiled plans for a new 200,000 square foot performance and community space on the Scioto Peninsula that will cost an estimated $275 million to build.

Renderings released show a boomerang shaped facility on the banks of the Scioto River just south of COSI. The large glass building has a spacious atrium flanked on two sides by a large 1,600 seat auditorium for the symphony to perform and another multi-floor column of multipurpose rooms for offices, a community theater and educational space.

The symphony's Executive Director Denise Rehg told WOSU the high cost to build a dedicated performance space is justified to create something iconic to put Columbus on the map.

"It should not be acceptable in some respects to (Columbus) that we don't put up such a building. The reality is we've been growing and we have such a wonderful story to tell as a community," Rehg said.

The symphony first submitted a site plan earlier this year to build the facility on the 6-acre West Bank Park.

Rehg said the symphony has already raised $20 million to build the venue, but other government funding including a potential $10 million grant award from the state and private philanthropic donations will help them reach their goal.

Rehg said she jokes that the facility has the potential to be Columbus' Sydney Opera House, comparing its potential to the iconic Australian venue. She said Columbus needs a dedicated music hall like fellow major Ohio cities including Dayton and Cincinnati.

The symphony currently performs in the Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus and would move almost all of its performances to this new venue. Rehg said since the symphony does not perform year round, other performance groups will have the opportunity to perform there.

"Part of its purpose is meant to be to create something iconic, in the city proper that will create a draw and hopefully help put Columbus on the map," Rehg said.

Columbus Association of the Performing Arts (CAPA) CEO Chad Whittington told WOSU on All Sides Weekend last Friday that the symphony is aiming to build a smaller venue with better acoustics. Whittington said the project could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rehg said the facility could finish construction and open by 2028.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.