Smith Center 101

Key details about the Valley’s new performing arts center

Symphony Park — including the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts — in downtown Las Vegas on Sunday, March 4, 2012.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/

Namesake The building is named for Fred W. Smith, former executive with the Donrey Media Group, who is board chair of the Reynolds Foundation. The building was named for him in exchange for the Foundation’s initial $50 million donation. The iris flower, incorporated in design elements throughout the building, honors Smith’s wife, Mary, who died in January 2010. The bronze pig sculpture in the Founders Room also honors Mary, who was fond of the animal.


Early days Steve and Elaine Wynn, John Goolsby of the Summa Corporation and other community leaders met at the Golden Nugget in 1994 to discuss the idea of a performing arts center. At the time, another group was already planning a center in a different part of the Valley, which hampered initial attempts to seek private funding for the Smith Center.

Color change The Smith Center was almost a reddish brown. Early renderings show a Southwestern-looking performance hall, due to the use of Nevada metaquartzite for the proposed exterior. Concerns about the local stone’s aesthetic value, mismatched coloring and the ability to get it carved locally led designers to pursue Indiana limestone.

Tuning Reynolds Hall was designed to handle varying performances—orchestral to amplified rock shows—with architect David Schwarz working with Connecticut-based Akustiks. Acoustics are adjusted using curtains throughout the hall and anterooms behind the box seats to absorb sound. Both a science and art, acoustics can’t be completely reliable, however. The audience also affects the sound.

Lifts In addition to having a fly space, which provides the amenities for large touring productions performing at the Smith Center, there is also an orchestra pit for live music attached to a lift under the stage. The sound console in the back of the room is on a lift raised from beneath the hall. When not in use, it is swapped for a bank of seats (also on a lift).

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