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A Campus Gem Shines Once Again

In order to bring a diamond to its full brilliance, craftsmen must first cut and polish the gem, carving special facets that magnify light. These facets display a dazzling sparkle—a stark contrast from its former appearance in the rough.

So it is with the newly polished crown jewel of The Florida State University, the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

“The Ruby Diamond restoration is a transformative project for Florida State," College of Music Dean Don Gibson said. "The College of Music has never had a large performing venue with adequate acoustics, and the renovation has provided such a space. It has been transformed into a breathtaking new artistic and intellectual gateway to the university.”

And the change is literally breathtaking. For those familiar with the old auditorium, the initial response to the splendor of the restored space is an audible gasp.

The newest facet of the Ruby Diamond is the John S. and James L. Knight Lobby. The 11,000-square-foot lobby, named to honor the Knight Foundation’s generous $1 million gift to the project, now has the capacity to easily accommodate hundreds waiting for a performance to begin. This, along with vendor stations, ticket offices and restrooms is a far cry from the old Ruby Diamond, which had, in effect, no lobby.

The concert hall itself was redesigned from an auditorium to provide patrons and performers an exceptional experience through drastically improved acoustics. From the entrance to the hall, patrons must pass through two sound-proofing sets of handsome, heavy doors designed to buffer the concert space from the lobby. Inside the concert hall, everything from the orchestra pit to the second ceiling is new, including a dramatically enlarged proscenium and reshaped interior walls.

Thoughtful details accent every structural update—new parterre seating highlighted by murals, aisle seats with intricate detailing, medallions and chandelier light fixtures. The Florida State Master Craftsmen Studios was commissioned to hand-carve the owl soaring above the audience in the concert hall as well as etch the seals in the new entrance doors. The owl motif, a reference to the university’s days as the Florida State College for Women when the owl was used as a symbol, is continued in the lobby, where two carved owls sit perched atop banisters.

These structural and cosmetic changes will allow patrons and performers to experience a world-class venue, a necessity when hosting musicians like B.B. King, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Bob Dylan—all of whom have performed at the auditorium in previous years.

But perhaps most importantly for the university, these renovations to the restored Ruby Diamond Concert Hall will provide current College of Music musicians with a performance hall that matches the caliber of their respective programs.

“For the first time in the 100-year history of the College of Music, our students will have a large performance venue appropriate to their dedication and musical accomplishment,” Gibson said. “Prior to the renovation, Ruby Diamond served only the largest performing ensembles, and those only very poorly. With the superb adjustable acoustics in the new Ruby, all College of Music ensembles, whether instrumental or vocal, large or small, will find a rewarding environment for performance. I am delighted for our students and thankful to everyone on and off campus who made this project a reality.”

To inquire about upcoming performances and ticket availability, please visit the box office in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, or call (850) 645-7949.

Naming opportunities for select areas within Ruby Diamond are currently available. To learn more, visit www.music.fsu.edu or contact the Office of the Dean at (850) 644-4361.

Photos: Ruby Diamond Auditorium
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