Hill Auditorium

825 N University Ave Ann Arbor

VAMONDE Ann Arbor
Written By VAMONDE Ann Arbor

Hill Auditorium

Hill Auditorium is the largest performance venue on the University of Michigan campus. It was named in honor of Arthur Hill (1847-1909), who served as a regent of the university from 1901 to 1909. He bequeathed $200,000 to the university for the construction of a venue for lectures, musical performances, and other large productions. The building, designed by Albert Kahn and Associates, opened in 1913. It was renovated by the same firm and re-opened in 2004.

The building routinely hosts performances given by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the School of Music's various ensembles, and with seating for an audience of 3,538 people, it's one of the most popular music venues on campus. The size of the venue isn't the only characteristic that helps with its popularity, the acoustics of the building are widely praised. This is thanks to a collaboration with architect Albert Kahn and noted acoustical engineer Hugh Tallant.

Michigan's University Musical Society presents performances of many world-renowned artists at Hill Auditorium. The oval-shaped stage has played host to Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Frost, Wynton Marsalis, Elton John and Lupe Fiasco.

Design concept

Kahn's vision for the auditorium was to create a hall with perfect acoustics. This means that a person in any seat should be able to hear. The only known example of perfect acoustics before this was the Mormon Tabernacle.

Only one man at the time was pre-eminent in terms of acoustical engineering: Hugh Tallant. Though it took a few months for Tallant to respond, he did design the acoustics. What resulted was an auditorium in the shape of a megaphone. It's said that even in the seat farthest from the stage, one can hear a pin drop on stage.

Cover image by Andrew Horne is in the public domain. Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

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