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Kleinhans Music Hall image provided by the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Kleinhans Music Hall image provided by the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Groundbreaking for $21 million renovation project at Kleinhans Music Hall


Wed, Sep 21st 2022 07:30 pm

Project will upgrade & refurbish world-renowned cultural institution

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced construction is underway on a $21 million renovation project at Kleinhans Music Hall, a world-class arts and culture destination located in Buffalo. The project will upgrade and refurbish the National Historic Landmark and prevent further deterioration. Hochul recently announced $8 million in fiscal year 2023 budget funding for the project, in addition to up to $1 million in grants from Empire State Development.

"The arts are critical to economic growth and community health in New York state, and Kleinhans is a vital cultural force in Western New York," Hochul said. "For decades, Kleinhans Music Hall, where my family and I have enjoyed countless evenings in the audience, has drawn visitors with its reputation for being one of the finest concert halls in the world. This project allows us to continue to make Kleinhans a modern, welcoming place for visitors to experience top quality entertainment and culture for decades to come." 

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "The Kleinhans Music Hall renovations are critical for the safety and enjoyment of audiences and visitors to this historic venue, which is a key part of the cultural identity and economic vitality of Western New York. Thanks to Gov. Hochul, these infrastructure upgrades ensure Kleinhans is stage-ready for generations to come."

A press release said, “Kleinhans Music Hall, located on Symphony Circle, has served Western New York for 82 years and is an economic engine for the region. It is owned by the City of Buffalo and managed by Kleinhans Music Hall Management Inc., a not-for-profit. The iconic hall was built in 1939, designed by Eliel and Eero Sarrinen, and is the home performance and rehearsal space to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Just Buffalo Literary Center's Babel Series, and Buffalo Chamber and Music Society; and is rented for many school, community and family celebrations. 

“The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra hosts all Buffalo Public School students in grades 1 through 5 to a performance at Kleinhans, amounting to about 24,000 children each year. An additional 16,000 students from across Western New York also travel to Kleinhans for performances annually. Each year, Kleinhans hosts nearly 200 events with approximately 200,000 people in attendance.”

Kleinhans Director Daniel Hart said, "As stewards of this magnificent building in partnership with the city, we are delighted that Gov. Hochul has made this incredible commitment to this important project. This support, along with that of our other partners including the City of Buffalo and Erie County, has quickly transformed this effort from a dream to reality. Speaking for our Kleinhans board of directors, we believe the most important thing we can is to preserve and enhance the building so it can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come. This day represents a true milestone to that end."

After decades of use, virtually every corner of the Kleinhans building needs repair or support, including its exterior, interior, plumbing, roof, basement, electrical, doors, public safety and HVAC. This phase of the project will accomplish the following:

√ Completion of an entirely new roof (current is 40 years old).

√ New central steam boiler/vacuum condensate return system upgrade to efficient modular steam boilers. Makeup water systems will be purchased and installed.

√ Upgrade heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems. Major equipment components and control systems will require replacement: New exhaust fans and ducts; steam traps throughout; frontend BMS controllers; main auditorium HVAC; Livingston Hall and basement air handling units.

√ Life safety/energy efficiency. Update fire systems and smoke detectors; install new fall protection above the ceiling over the stage; door access and security system will be replaced throughout the facility; exterior lighting will be upgraded (parking lot, north and south canopies), interior lighting will be upgraded in all areas for energy efficiency.

√ General building system. A new liner for the reflecting pool will be installed. Windows will be replaced. Painting and plastering throughout will be scheduled throughout the project timeline.

The press release said, “This project advances downtown revitalization, offering a premiere, international landmark performance space within one to two miles of Buffalo's central business district. It is a strategic community investment, as the immediately adjacent neighborhoods have seen economic investment and growth in the past decade. The project is also environmentally responsible; water, electric and gas management through the systems upgrade will provide greater efficiencies saving dollars and natural resources.”

Additional support for the renovation project is being provided by the City of Buffalo, Erie County, Assemblyman Jon Rivera, and commitments from the private sector.

State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "For more than eight decades, Kleinhans has served as an iconic institution in the City of Buffalo, fostering a commitment to art, music and community. This investment will prioritize the efficiency, safety and accessibility of the music hall, and ensure it remains an integral part of our city for generations to come."

Rivera said, "As a historical treasure in my district, Kleinhans is an important asset to our community with an international reputation as an extraordinary concert hall. Opened in 1940, the infrastructure of the building now requires attention and mechanical repairs. I am beyond proud that my office was able to secure grant funding to aid this project and to ensure that future generations of Buffalo's music lovers will be able to enjoy the world-class setting and performances that Kleinhans consistently provides."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "Our community's quality of life will be enhanced by these upgrades and improvements at Kleinhans Music Hall. This renovation project will strengthen the overall arts community in Erie County and also play an important role in the continued revitalization of our local economy. Preserving and enhancing this historic structure is a wise investment that will be appreciated by residents of our region and visitors to Western New York for many years to come."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "For the past 82 years, Kleinhans Music Hall has been a jewel in Buffalo's world-class cultural and architectural portfolio, but it is showing its physical age and it's time for major updates. I thank Gov. Hochul and the Empire State Development Corp. for New York state's generous contribution to the $21 million renovation project that is now underway. Since 2016, my administration invested more than $2.6 million to maintain this city-owned treasure, and we are proud to contribute $2.2 million to this project, which will safeguard this magnificent facility for future generations to enjoy."

More information about Kleinhans can be found at https://kleinhansbuffalo.org/.

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