Step by step: The new Bing Concert Hall

L.A. Cicero Bing Hall construction

The shape of the Bing Concert Hall will allow sound to radiate naturally, offering a superb acoustic.

Right now it's a 65-foot-tall gray steel skeleton off Palm Drive. But imagine it with a string quintet playing Haydn, or a Christmas choral concert, or an avant-garde multimedia performance.

The 844-seat Bing Concert Hall is the first step in a long-range vision for the new arts district at the "front door" of campus, offering a powerful architectural identity for the arts at Stanford.

Clearing the site began last spring, and foundation work followed in July. But the dramatic part was the erection of the steel drum that provides the distinctive shape of the future hall: It took less than a week to go up.

"The steel erection was extremely efficient and very well orchestrated – a good word for a concert hall," said Maggie Burgett, project manager for the future arts venue. "There seems to be a lot of interest. People are amazed when they go by because it went up so fast," she said.

The future 112,000-square-foot, fez-shaped concert hall is more than architecturally stunning: It will dramatically enhance the quality of performance space at Stanford. The shape of the concert hall will allow sound to radiate naturally, offering a superb acoustic.

A glass-enclosed foyer will provide space for lectures, receptions and other programming. The hall also will have a substantial rehearsal studio, a state-of-the-art recording studio and a performers' lounge and garden.

Compared with San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, which is more than three times larger, the Bing Concert Hall will be positively cozy, with the audience closer to the performers and almost on the same level with them. Its design will feature a vineyard-style configuration – the concert equivalent of "theater in the round," with terraced sections wrapping around the stage.

Don't expect to see any more dramatic changes soon. "It will look like what it looks like now for quite a while," said Burgett. The next steps are aligning and welding the structure and hanging the catwalk steel.

The building is slated for completion in summer 2012, with the first public performances in January 2013.