Grand Ole Opry rebuild Plad Studio

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Rebuilding the Grand Ole Opry

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Photography by Chris Hollo

If you had tickets to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry in the beginning of May 2010, you would have been out of luck—the stage stood under four feet of water, due to Nashville’s epic floods. Once the floodwaters receded, it became instantly clear that the damage done to the music hall was extensive. But as the saying goes, “the show must go on,” so the Opry needed repaired, and fast. Plad Studio led the charge through the whirlwind restoration, and agreed to share the details and the new-and-improved music hall.

DB: The flood essentially destroyed the Grand Ole Opry’s interior. When you took on the restoration, what became your first priority?
Justin Lowe: Priority number one was to get the Opry House back open – as soon as possible! For the first month or so, that was the only priority. The direction was to “put it back like it was,” except where we had an opportunity to improve accessibility. This was a 100,000 square foot project that was given 19 weeks from the day we were called to the site until the facility had to reopen for its first return performance. We worked alongside the owner and contractor in their job trailers to design and document decisions quickly enough to stay ahead of the 200 construction workers, seven days a week, for almost five months.

DB: After the first month, what changed?
JL: The Opry and Gaylord Entertainment realized that there was never a more golden opportunity to improve the interior aesthetic of the building. The area dedicated to the stars of the Opry was infamous for its early ‘70’s “high school locker room” feel, so, interior design became a close #2 [priority]. Anderson Design Studio joined the team to help design a contemporary, updated interior that remained true to the overwhelming history of this place and this show.

DB: How has the completed and refurbished Grand Ole Opry reinvigorated the performances that take place there?
JL: The design of the back-of-house areas is specifically set up to make users feel relaxed and at home, while constantly being reminded of the historic significance of this venue and this show. The famous greenroom, where artists congregate before and after taking the stage, was designed to be the living room of the Opry, encouraging interaction and socialization between artists and musicians. While the public spaces were not changed as much as the backstage spaces, the special history and cultural significance of this venue alone already supports a sense of community among patrons, artists, and the city alike. Sometimes unnoticed details, such as using pews instead of individual seats for audience seating, inherently foster interaction between audience members. Additionally the show’s casual radio format is set up to allow audience members to interact and mingle. Visitors may come to see a show, but inevitably leave feeling that they were a part of the radio broadcast. We are proud that we got to be a part of keeping those traditions alive.

FIRM / PLAD STUDIO
PRINCIPAL ARCHITECTS / DAVID PLUMMER AND JUSTIN LOWE

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