Sounds of San Diego

San Diego Symphony is slated to build a bayside concert hall by Soundforms

Bayside Performance Park will be San Diego's newest park and performance venue. (Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

San Diego is soon to boast one of the most acoustically innovative waterfront concert venues in Southern California, according to local officials. Set to open next summer on Embarcadero Marina Park South, the San Diego Symphony will get a permanent space to host its shows, all centered around a 13,000-square-foot stage structure by London-based consortium Soundforms and local studio Tucker Sadler Architects

The $45 million project is part of a larger proposal to encourage year-round activity in downtown San Diego. The venue, Bayside Performance Park, will be built on a 10.8-acre existing greenspace that’s able to hold over 3,000 people on average, and up to 10,000 on special occasions. It will be located directly across the from the San Diego Convention Center and will mimic its design in form and texture. Soundforms, best known for the “Olympic Bandstand” structure it created for the 2012 London Olympics, will scale up its most famous product, the Soundforms Performance Shell, for San Diego’s premier outdoor music hall. 

Rendering from water of concert venue in park with skyline in background

This will be the San Diego Symphony’s first permanent venue for its summer concert series. (Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

Taking cues from the convention center’s stand-out shape and the surrounding downtown skyline, Soundforms will create a concert shell with a cantilevered roof at the edge of the parkland. It will be wrapped in durable, white fabric—a nod to the convention center’s rooftop sails—and built by tensile structure contractor Fabritecture. Charles Salter Acoustics, a sound company in San Francisco will work with consultant Shawn Murphey to install a massive sound system that can accommodate orchestral performances, Broadway musicals, film screenings, and popular artists. 

Aerial image of pathway leading to park surrounded by water

Visitors will be able to walk directly from the heart of downtown to the peninsula parkland. (Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

Tucker Sadler Architects and Burton Landscape Architecture Studio will root the structure in place and connect it to the entire Embarcadero Marina Park South by designing a terraced lawn with temporary seating and a widened public promenade that wraps around the venue. The design team will also add sunset steps to the back of the pavilion, which locals can access when performances aren’t happening.

Image of white pavilion with steps leading to rocky water edge

The stark-white structure will provide high contrast for the San Diego sunsets behind it next summer. (Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

For the San Diego Symphony, such a space has been a long time coming. For the last 15 years, it’s had to assemble and disassemble a stage for its popular Bayside Summer Nights concert series. But that’s all changing now. According to a press release, Bayside Performance Park will be the only permanent outdoor performance space that doubles as an active park on the West Coast. 

[This project] supports the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay waterfront,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners in a statement. “Bayfront visitors will love the new and improved performance facility, not to mention the improved park and park amenities.” 

Construction will begin in September. 

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