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Iconic Austin: The Long Center

published on November 21, 2011

Just south of Downtown Austin, one can discover a myriad of gifts that make this city special – not just for the weird and quirky but also for the more artistic and refined. One such place, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, is a new addition to the city’s cultural offerings. Architecturally stunning and providing true richness through its offerings, the center is “founded on the belief that the performing arts are essential components in the quality of life in our community.” The Long Center brings arts, education, and economic benefits to Austin and also serves as home to three founding resident companies, Ballet Austin, Austin Lyric Opera, and Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Originally conceived of by the City of Austin, with initial funding of $20 million from Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long and plans created by Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the project to convert the Lester E. Palmer Auditorium to a new performing arts venue was under way after 1998. Hard economic times put a stop to the progress, however, and required that the original plan for four separate theatres be revamped. The new project was unveiled in 2003, with construction completed in two phases. By March 28, 2008, the Long Center held its grand opening, on time and on budget.

The first phase of the Long Center is one that visitors can enjoy. The Michael and Susan Dell Hall has 2,300 seats where spectators can view a variety of performing arts shows from touring musical acts to Broadway Across America shows to grand orchestras and more. Though it is a huge hall, its construction and ambiance, coupled with incredible acoustics, lead to a certain intimacy that makes any seat feel like the best in the house.

The Debra and Kevin Rollins Studio Theatre is a dynamic theatre that allows for a variety of configurations to fit the needs of the regional and community arts groups who use it, with seating ranging from 80-229. In the building, visitors can also find the Kodosky Donor Lounge, the West Donor Lounge and Terrace, and two AT&T Education Rooms that are utilized for meetings and classes. Outside, you will find the City Terrace (with a giant “compression ring” recycled from the old Palmer Events Center) and Hartman Concert Park, a unique outdoor facility that allows for concerts, galas, and other performances along the backdrop of Austin’s amazing skyline.

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