Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Top To Bottom Tour of Robinson Center, Second Act.

Explore the newly reopened Robinson Center Music Hall and Conference Center in this special sneak peek.

We were on hand the last time the Center was open. Immediately after our exploration, Robinson Center was closed and gutted, reconstructed and expanded (take a look here for the photos from that tour, and here for the plan to recreate the popular Little Rock ediface).

On Wednesday, November 9th, photographer Grav Weldon and I toured the structure. These are the photos from that exploration. Enjoy.

The original portico is gone, replaced with dual entrances that take individuals to a stairwell leading to the back of the house and the lower level of the auditorium. There's also double doors under the constructed overhang on the right.

I needed some boxing gloves to properly achieve my Rocky pose. 
This new sculpture "In The Wings" in front of the Center.

Jonathan Semas leads our tour down this stairwell and straight to the new stage.

New entrances directly into Robinson Center from the attached parking deck (which also serves the Doubletree Hotel) have been cut into each level.

The new three-level interior of the auditorium, complete with two levels of box seating on the sides.

Touchup painting was still underway during our tour, as were auditory tests.

The stage was lowered 36 feet - though, with what was added on top, it's just 31 feet difference from the original stage. The black-painted area denotes the new area.

Light banks being fitted with bulbs. Note the original brick back of the theater above.

This image looks directly up into the cables, stays and walks above the stage. The wooden sections you see are the top and back of the bandshell for musical performances. Some of the original curtains have been retained from before the renovation.

A mere 22 inch rail guards the edge of the box seating. For those of us who have vertigo, it's a little alarming. But the lower rails mean a better view of the stage.

Sound curtains overhead help the acoustics. The original plaster ceiling now removed, the interior is 12 feet higher in addition to being (in places) up to 36 feet deeper.

The old escalators are gone. Now the concourse sports function space, including this special enclosed area named for Barry L. Travis.

Artwork on the far wall celebrates the history of Robinson Center Music Hall.
During the tear-out, this original stage was discovered below the main stage. It has been recycled as flooring and paneling.

A single bathroom unit off the Barry L. Travis suite.

The original paintings of Mrs. and Mr. Robinson have been returned to Robinson Center, this time facing each other. They're featured on the original exterior brick of the building, now an inside wall.

The back wall of the original auditorium has been taken in 20 feet to allow for the installation of this grand staircase, each side of which meets before turning to spill out at the bottom. The reflection you see below the stairwell is a new street level entrance on the Broadway side. Restrooms are to the left under the concourse.
At the back, you'll see a large round light fixture. Two of the original six Art Deco light fixtures from the original auditorium have been restored and now live in the concourse behind the front lobby. Due to their extreme age and use, these two had to be reconstructed from bits of all six lights.

Though the old windows were single paned, the new metalwork makes the windows at the front of Robinson Auditorium somehow seem larger. The small restrooms at the sides of this lobby have been replaced with ramps which make the lobby accessible for the first time.

The old wood panels have been removed and the lobby has been repaired and painted. These medallions were fabricated based on photos and specs from the original opening of the building.


The floor, including the original city seal, have been cleaned and polished.

After seeing the stage and the auditorium, we headed for the back of the house and the new conference center.
The new conference center includes three breakout rooms up top that can be combined to create a single large space with patio that looks out over the Broadway Bridge, currently under reconstruction.

Look familiar? This is the original decorative brickwork on the back of the old Robinson Center Music Hall. That's right, two years ago we'd have been hovering (though not for long) in empty space above LaHarpe if we'd been right here.

An outdoor patio wraps around two sides of the conference center, providing some unique views.

I suspect this will be one of the best new party spots in the city. It's one of the largest contained outdoor spaces in town, and it has a remarkable view of Riverfront Park and the North Little Rock skyline.

Access to the conference center and new galleries on the west side of the structure have expanded the auditorium's footprint, ensconcing the old exterior. This face used to be three stories above traffic.

This new bank of elevators on the structure's west side should greatly relieve the stress of access on both the new conference center and the auditorium space.

On the back side of this level, you'll find the ballroom.

This grand hallway also showcases the original decorative brickwork from the back of the original hall.

This gorgeous ballroom offers 180 degree views of Little Rock, North Little Rock and soon the Broadway Bridge. It's cantilevered out over LaHarpe Boulevard.

Two new bay doors that lead directly out onto LaHarpe will allow for large production pieces to be brought in. This means bigger productions such as Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King will be able to come in.

One of four new chorus dressing rooms. This one's located behind the stage.

This hallway is storage for chairs, access to the stage, and a link to both group and private dresssing rooms.

A special lift inside this door allows for ADA access to the orchestra pit.

One of the new dressing rooms, complete with green room, restroom and piano.

A view from the bottom of the three story lobby.

Ladies, your restroom wait needs are over, with a whole series of oversized restrooms located throughout the structure.

For more information, check out Robinson Center's Second Act.


  1. This concert hall looks amazing! I hope next conference of will be held there. That would be awesome.


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