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Miller Theater is located in historic Dodge Hall, a McKim, Mead & White landmark building. The renovation transforms an existing lecture hall into a dramatic performance space with strong sigh lines, quality acoustics, and a new lobby. A concave rear wall and a diffusing ceiling vastly enhances the acoustical environment. A new side wall balcony provides space for both control booths and seating while improved seating rake supplies optimal sight lines and a greater sense of intimacy between the audience and the performers. To develop the theatre’s public presence, a new one and a half story lobby faces the corner of Broadway and College Walk.

Robert Siegel Architects completed this feasibility study for the Columbia University Miller Theatre where in we preserved the existing landmarked building while designing a state of the art performance facility that the theater director calls “The MoMA of Modern Music.” As part of our services we met extensively with faculty and staff from the Music, Drama, Campus Facilities, and Maintenance Departments. We prepared a detailed program analysis, a physical condition analysis, and recommendations for two qualitative design options. These were accompanied by drawings, scope of work descriptions, and cost estimates. In addition, we developed drawings and computer renderings to help fund-raising staff build excitement and generate enthusiasm for the project.


Acoustics: We tested reverberation time within the theatre and found it to be an acoustically brights pace with a short duration of approximately one second. This is quite reasonable for theater but rather low for music, where 1.4 seconds would be optimal. Without a fly loft and wings however, it remains quite limited for theatrical productions. Nevertheless, given its intimate size and character, we suggested that the theater’s qualities could be taken advantage of with a bit of ingenuity. We investigated electro-acoustics as a means to combine a more optimal acoustic quality with the advantages of the intimate seating configuration.


The different acoustical quantities desired for theater and music point out the inherent dilemma in multipurpose theaters. We presented a clear range of choices and solutions in the final presentation of our study.

For more information about the Columbia University Miller Theatre, see the Miller Theatre website.

Project Type



Interior Renovation

Design (Not Built)

Building Area

Services Provided

10,000 ft

930 m  interior

Interior Design

Acoustic & Audio

Visual Design






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