PROJECT UPDATE

Following a major refurbishment, the beloved Alexander Theatre, at Monash University’s Clayton Performing Arts Precinct, officially opened its doors on Tuesday 11 September at a welcoming launch with performances and special guests.

Mrs Catherine Andrews officially opened the proceedings with a welcome address, touching on her fond memories of working in the theatre as an usher and buffet manager whilst living on campus as an arts undergraduate.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO said the venue is undoubtedly a 21st century performing arts facility now, that will enrich the lives of a whole new generation of theatre-goers and music lovers.

Watch the highlights video here.

Vision

The reimagined Alexander Theatre, new Sound Gallery and Jazz Club will embody the values of Monash University as set out in the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan “Focus Monash” and will support the development of a vibrant, inviting and inclusive campus in line with the Clayton Campus Masterplan.

The Project will restore and extend an existing architectural landmark to re-establish and celebrate the original concept of the Alexander Theatre and surrounding spaces. A key feature will be an advanced ‘Active Acoustic’ system which is fully programmable and able to expand the type and quality of performance opportunities across a range of operational modes.

The project will deliver world leading multi-purpose performance venues in which discovery and creativity thrive, and will provide a significant cultural performance space for the local arts communities.

History

The Alexander Theatre opened in 1967 to much acclaim as an innovative and striking work of architecture. The theatre was designed by Eggleston MacDonald & Secomb Architects and is one of several important Clayton campus foundation buildings including the neighbouring Menzies Building, Chancellery and Robert Blackwood Hall.

The adjoining Rotunda was opened soon after the Alexander Theatre as the main teaching venue for the University with seven large lecture theatres. The Rotunda is an imposing and large brick structure which shares a common foyer with the Alexander Theatre.

Both buildings are examples of heroic architecture with great presence.

Inspiration

The concept for the design of the re-vitalised Alexander Theatre is to re-establish the clarity of the existing building in its originally envisaged setting. By introducing new technologies its versatility will expand the type and quality of performance opportunities across a range of operational modes.

The concept for the new Jazz Club and Sound Gallery is an assemblage of ramparted and faceted forms sitting under a large floating circular roof. The combination of ramparted walls separated by panels of glazing will create an engaging building and enhance the user experience.

A new glazed main entry foyer will connect the new venues to the Theatre. This combined with the formal strength of the Theatre will create an engaging architectural ensemble.

Active Acoustics

A unique feature of the project will be an active acoustic system which is fully programmable and able to expand the type and quality of performance opportunities across a range of operational modes.

The University has selected the world-leading Meyer Sound Constellation system to achieve this aspiration.

The system will use an array of microphones to sample the sound environment in the space and will use digital signal processing and loudspeakers to enable a wide range of acoustic environments to be experienced.

This is a highly specialised and defining aspect of the project and will be the first of its kind installed in a proscenium theatre in Australia.

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