Key player in Abravanel Hall genesis speaks out against demolition

SALT LAKE CITY — “There is no way to replace this building. That’s why we have to save him! said prominent Utahn Richard Eyre of Maurice Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City.

“There is a way to create this beautiful corridor without touching this beautiful iconic building,” he said.

Eyre responds to plans to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City, which could include the demolition of Abravanel Hall. He believes

Following the Salt Lake County Mayor and Smith Entertainment Group’s joint statement on the future of Abravanel Hall, home of the Utah Symphony, revitalization plans have been developed.

Spence Eccles responded to them with a statement:

A strong, vibrant city includes activities that enrich the lives of its residents – from the arts to sports, to education and beyond. With creativity and collaboration, we can work together to support the healthy growth of our city AND support Utah’s rich cultural history, including Abravanel Hall and the arts. What we need to do first is come together as collective stakeholders to ask questions, listen and develop a plan that takes everything into consideration to support the success of our great capital.

Known then as Symphony Hall, thousands of Utahns gathered for its first concerts in downtown Salt Lake City in September 1979.

Abravanel Hall is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Smith Entertainment Group, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County envision streets near Delta Center and City Creek Center filled with businesses and housing. The plan would preserve places like Abravanel Hall and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, but it’s not yet clear whether those buildings will be renovated or reconstructed. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Eyre led the bond campaign to raise the funds needed for its construction.

“I don’t want to let Salt Lake County forget this dream. And that it was their constituents, probably your parents in many cases, who gave birth to this building,” he said. “We must never let go…so that this beautiful icon endures for our children and our grandchildren.” »

Eyre said the beauty of the building’s interior is matched only by its acoustics.

“We had the greatest acoustician in the world, a man named Cyril Harris from New York, and he said, ‘If you want a symphony hall that will last forever and be known as one of the best acoustic halls in the world world, you have to build it just for the Symphony.

Money from that bond election during the bicentennial also funded the renovation of the Capitol Theater, home to both Ballet West and the Utah Opera Company.

Eyre said he can’t believe the state’s premier arts organization could lose its headquarters because of a plan to revitalize an area east of the Delta Center.

“This is not a building that can ever be replaced,” he said. “If we were to raze it or try to rebuild another facility, it would be a generational mistake and people would regret it for decades.” »

Symphony Hall became Abravanel Hall in 1983. It is named after beloved Maestro Maurice Abravanel, music director for 32 years. He insisted that every schoolchild in Utah experience the symphony, and that continues.

The building is 45 years old and in need of renovation, but Eyre is concerned that some think it is cheaper to rebuild.

“I mean, when the committee makes a statement comparing the benefits of rebuilding to the excessive costs of remodeling, that’s false. It should be reversed. These are the benefits of renovation and maintenance compared to the high cost of reconstruction. And I hear numbers that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix broadband. Well, that’s absurd. This is false, the situation should be reversed. These are the benefits of renovation and conservation, compared to the high cost of reconstruction.

He said those who would even consider demolition fail to understand that Salt Lake City was first and foremost an arts community and that should never be forgotten.