In support of the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay, on August 5th, the Port and the San Diego Symphony celebrated the debut of the West Coast’s first bayside concert venue and park within a park, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.
This years-in-the-making bayfront performance venue in the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South provides enhanced opportunities for tourism, business growth, and San Diegans. Managed and programmed by the Symphony, and with more than 100 concerts and events year-round offering views of the bay, the marina, and downtown, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park and the surrounding park represents a partnership of business, government leaders, and the arts in service of the community.
“We are so thrilled to have worked with the San Diego Symphony to bring this incredible bayside performance venue to life. The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is just the kind of project that invigorates the community, stimulates the economy, and becomes part of the fabric of a city’s culture and identity,” said Chairman Michael Zucchet, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “Bravo to the Symphony and thank you for bringing a second-to-none experience to San Diego Bay.”
Featuring a highly innovative, architecturally striking and acoustically superior outdoor stage, the permanent facility replaces a temporary venue allowing the Symphony to present a wider variety of musical presentations and enrich the patron experience with improved sightlines, expanded concession area, and permanent bathrooms. The Symphony’s expanded and diverse schedule of outdoor classical concerts is programmed by the Symphony’s Music Director Rafael Payare. The Orchestra will bring to audiences both the most beloved works of classical music as well as the brilliant new composers of our time. As in past years, the best in popular music and guest artists will also be well-represented.
“Today marks an incredible milestone in the journey to making the concept and dream of this iconic venue a reality,” said Martha Gilmer, San Diego Symphony CEO. “I am immensely grateful to the Port of San Diego, its commissioners and staff—as their partnership and dedication has helped us get to this moment: the official opening of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, San Diego Symphony’s gift to the region.”
The new, permanent performance venue will operate as a “park within a park” much like Chicago’s Millennium Park. Approximately two-thirds of the park will be open to the public 100 percent of the time, year-round. The portion of the park where the Symphony’s venue sits will be open for public use 85 percent of the year, and for larger gatherings the public can apply for special event permits just like other Port parks on the San Diego Bayfront. In addition, the Symphony’s project also included public improvements throughout the rest of the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South, including a widened public promenade around the venue that will remain open to the public during events, and refurbished and/or replaced seating benches, basketball courts, exercise equipment, gazebo, lighting, and restrooms.
A work of art in itself, the acoustically engineered stage features a concert shell that can be illuminated with LED lighting and is designed to complement the San Diego Convention Center sails and surrounding downtown development. The stage provides a larger performance space for both the orchestra and guest artists. Additional project design components include:
- Covered stage with 13,000 square feet of performance space and ancillary back-of-house facilities;
- Sunset steps and patio at the back of the performance stage for stunning views of the bay and public use during non-event hours;
- Flexible seating capacity varying from intimate seating of 2,000 up to 10,000;
- Terraced seating to provide all concert guests unobstructed views from every seat;
- Temporary seating that allows for lawns to be open to the public during non-event periods;
- Improved and environmentally sustainable landscaping;
- Sand-based synthetic turf in the main seating area and pre-event spaces, which will reduce water consumption and be more environmentally friendly;
- In order to ensure that everyone in the community has access to the events taking place, the San Diego Symphony will provide reduced priced tickets to every concert; present four free public events, two of which will take place in the summer months; and provide free educational events and open Symphony rehearsals for the public.
- Architect – Tucker Sadler Architects
- Performance Shell Design – Soundforms Design Partners: ES Global Ltd. / Flanagan Lawrence / Expedition
- General Contractor – Rudolph and Sletten
- Project Manager – Gardiner and Theobald Inc.
- Landscape Architect – Burton Landscape Architecture Studio
- Civil Engineer – Moffatt & Nichol
- Performance Shell, Technical Design & Fabrication – Fabrictecture
- AV/IT/Acoustic Consultant – Salter
- Audio/Sound Consultant – Shawn Murphy
- Structural Engineering – Coffman Engineers
- MEP Engineering – Robison Engineering, Inc.
- Theater Consultant – Schuler Schook
- Lighting Designer – Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
- Hospitality – Frank O’Dea Hospitality
- Food Service Equipment Designer – Meyer Food Service Design
- Branding and Signage – 40/40 Creative
From 2004 to 2019, the Symphony assembled and disassembled a temporary venue in the Port’s Embarcadero Marina Park South for its Bayside Summer Nights concert series.