Henry Segerstrom initiated fund-raising efforts for the $200 million Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with a $50 million gift, the largest charitable cash donation in Orange County’s history. The building—designed by Cesar Pelli and housing the 2,000-seat concert hall as well as the 500-seat Samueli Theater—is a novel interpretation of midcentury International Style architecture. The ribbonlike glass facade, which is composed of more than an acre of glass, follows the undulating shape of the balconies in the concert hall and opens to a multistory, atrium-style lobby.
In addition to displaying a striking design, the concert hall also incorporates technology that is designed to optimize the acoustics. Among these innovations is an air-conditioning system that includes vents beneath each seat. The vents release cool air that rises to the ceiling and recirculates without any sound that might compete with a performance.
As chair of the hall’s gala opening celebration, which began in September, Elizabeth Segerstrom spearheaded a program that included performances by Plácido Domingo and Midori, and a world premiere by Philip Glass. During October, the Kirov Opera, Ballet, and Orchestra will be in residence—a total of 650 performers. “The Russians are coming!” jokes Elizabeth.
Orange County Performing Arts Center