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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


$41.5 Million Project To Be Funded Entirely by Private and Foundation Donations

The Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees today voted to move forward with its Amphitheater renewal project and authorized the Institution staff to award the construction contract to LPCiminelli, Inc., of Buffalo, New York. LPCiminelli will serve as the project’s construction manager.

“We are incredibly excited to be moving forward with a renewed Amphitheater. This is one of the most significant projects in our 142-year history and a commitment to the future of this institution,” said Chautauqua Institution President Tom Becker. “We are grateful to the 58 private donors and foundations who have made this a reality and we are ready to begin work.”

The project cost will be $41.5 million, which includes contingency funds for changes that may arise during the construction process. Since early October, Institution staff and external consultants have thoroughly reviewed all elements of the project and are confident that the total project cost is appropriate. “The board has reviewed the bid packages and the changes made to them in achieving our project cost target,” said Board Chairman James A. Pardo Jr. “We will deliver an Amphitheater that meets all of the goals and objectives that were set for this facility.”

The Board also approved the final design of the renewed Amphitheater, a state-of-the-art facility that honors the look and feel of the original structure, a requirement Chautauquans emphasized throughout the four years of community input to the project. Included in the project are: an expanded bowl and roof structure secured to bedrock, ADA-compliant accessibility, enlarged stage area, 100-musician orchestra pit and a new, 21,000-square-foot back-of-house facility for artists, guests and production crews.

Construction will begin in early February and continue in the months prior to the 2016 Chautauqua season. Initial work will include site preparation, infrastructure development, caisson installation, groundwater diversion and partial Massey Organ underpinning. This work will require tree and bleacher removal and the removal of a substantial portion of the current back-of-house. Temporary facilities will be installed prior to the season start. Construction will pause for the 2016 season, then resume in the fall, followed by the grand opening of the renewed Amp for the start of Chautauqua’s 2017 season.

The choice of LPCiminelli as construction manager and the start of construction is the culmination of a process that began in 2013. LPCiminelli is a top-echelon construction group for institutional and commercial clients in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to the $41.5 million investment in Chautauqua County, the project is expected to employ over 250 tradesmen from the region and add $3 million to the local economy.

The renewed Amphitheater harmonizes seamlessly with its setting, and retains vital connectivity to the other significant community gathering places at the heart of the Chautauqua Institution grounds, including Bestor Plaza, Smith Memorial Library and the Athenaeum Hotel. Chautauquans will enjoy a facility that is safe and accessible to people with disabilities or physical limitations; that respects audiences, performers and presenters; and that gives the Institution the flexibility to welcome new ideas and performances over the next century.

Becker also emphasized that a full 2016 schedule of speakers and events is taking shape, with the season theme of “What Does It Mean To Be Human?” Scheduled lecturers and performers include: author Roger Rosenblatt; magazine editor Steve Forbes; David Simon, creator of HBO series “The Wire”; and musicians The Temptations, The Four Tops and Wynton Marsalis.

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