Stay in the Loop; Hear it All

As part of the acoustic upgrades taking place during Town Hall’s renovation, we’re permanently installing the Hearing Loop system in all three of our performance spaces. To give us a better idea of how a Hearing Loop works—as well as how this critical system supports members of our community who experience hearing loss—we turn to Mike James, who serves on Town Hall’s Board of Directors. Mike spoke with Town Hall’s Alexander Eby about his history with hearing loss, and shared all the reasons why he passionately supports the Hearing Loop’s installation.

Town Hall’s platform is built on the idea that everyone deserves to be heard—and for audience members like Mike James, this philosophy has never been more literal. Mike has lived with hearing loss since his late 30’s. Though his hearing aids are sufficient for smaller events, he’s encountered difficulty fully engaging with the lectures and performances he loves when they’re held in larger halls. But Mike is still a frequent visitor to Town Hall’s events, and he’s been able to fully experience our programming thanks to our Hearing Loop system.

“I’m fortunate enough to live right across the street from Town Hall,” Mike explains. He regularly attends Town Hall’s programs, and the Hearing Loop has enabled him to participate on any given night in impassioned community conversations, civic discussions, and science lectures. “The beauty of the Hearing Loop system is that it just…happens. You can sit down in the audience along with everyone else, and the sound from the event is transmitted directly to your hearing aids.”

Hearing Loop systems wirelessly transmit sound through microphones on the stage, transforming hearing aids fitted with telecoil receivers—like the ones Mike wears—into in-the-ear loudspeakers. “It’s the quality of the sound that’s the most significant thing. You’re hearing the program with yourhearing aids, so it’s adjusted specifically for your own levels of hearing loss. You can clearly hear what’s going on onstage, and at the same time you can be a part of the discussions going on around you.”

From his position on Town Hall’s Board of Directors, Mike has enthusiastically supported the permanent installation of the Hearing Loop system in Town Hall’s performance spaces. For other audience members experiencing hearing loss, this could make all the difference in the world. “A lot of people like me gave up on going to the theater or attending lectures because of the difficulty of hearing. That’s really overcome with the loop.”

To support audience members like Mike, we’re permanently outfitting our Great Hall, Downstairs, and the new West Room with their own Hearing Loop systems as part of Town Hall’s historic renovation. Accessibility is core to Town Hall’s design, and the Hearing Loop is a critical part of ensuring that members of our community who experience hearing loss will remain a part of the discussion.

“I was born in England, and I have relatives there. We’ve traveled together throughout Europe, and found that Hearing Loop systems over there are common. At museums, box offices—you name it, all of that is looped.” Town Hall is inspired by this broad accessibility, and we’re excited to be among the first organizations in our region to offer this technology to our community. “The great thing about Town Hall is that they’re one of the first institutions in Seattle to really pioneer this. It’s a tremendously positive change, and a real asset to Town Hall.”

To learn more about the Hearing Loop system, and about all the ways our new acoustic systems will transform Town Hall into a world-class performance hall, visit TownHallSeattle.org/HearItAll

Please considering making a donation to the project here.

Crooked Yet Strong

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Crooked Yet Strong

Fun Fact: One of the columns above our portico is misaligned (and has been since the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake). Don’t worry, it’s structurally sound, but this unique view atop the temporary scaffolding gives us a rare glimpse of this little quirk.

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Moulding Restoration

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Moulding Restoration

The historic moulding in the Great Hall is in terrific shape for its age. A few pieces require some restoration, and those that we’re unable to repair will be fully replicated. Our friends at RAFN construction carefully removed some of the existing plasterwork prior to demolishing the old elevator. Their staff is currently working on stripping the old paint and creating molds from the newly-cleaned pieces. This will allow them to cast new plaster elements to match the original decorative accents. Soon we’ll have newly-cast moulding that’s faithful to the graceful and historic design of the original!

When the elevator was added to the building in February 1960, the construction required some of the existing plasterwork to be cut or removed. With the new mold RAFN is making, they’ll be able to replace the missing or damaged pieces and restore the Great Hall’s plasterwork to the way it looked before the elevator’s installation nearly six decades ago.

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From Paperwork to Private Events

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From Paperwork to Private Events

We’re transforming our former admin offices into a brand new intimate performance and reception space. With the removal of the walls, this space will become a ~75 seat performance venue ideal for poetry readings, group discussions, or community gatherings. Our staff already hardly recognizes their former workspace![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

View from the Top

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View From the Top

The stained glass windows in our Great Hall have been fully removed and taken offsite for restoration, leaving us with an unconventional view of the changing leaves. It’s remarkable how quickly the renovation has changed the look of our familiar building, and there’s still so much more to go.

Like the trees, Town Hall will spend this winter laid bare and awaiting rejuvenation. Come next spring the decorative stained glass will return and our building will start to look like its old self again. And by this time next year the renovation will be close to completion![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Robot on the Stairs

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Robot on the Stairs

The vomitorium from our lobby level to the Great Hall remained unused due to safety concerns. Although this stairway certainly lent some charm to the lobby, with the help of this excavator, we’d much rather use the space for adding 17 accessible new restrooms on the ground floor!

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Behind Bars

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Behind Bars

This sturdy rebar frame will be filled with concrete to thicken and reinforce our historic walls as part of our seismic stabilization efforts! The building is currently unreinforced masonry, so the importance of earthquake-proofing cannot be overstated.
One of these frames will be erected in each corner of the building, and all four will be connected by large steel beams built into the upper and lower floors. The result will be a “cage” integrated seamlessly into the walls, securing the structure against tremors without compromising the character of the building’s historic design.

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Underground Shenanigans

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Underground Shenanigans

Our friends at RAFN construction discovered the remains of Town Hall’s old heating system while digging into the basement level. Makes us glad we’ll be installing our new climate control system somewhere a little less spooky.
It’s a persistent urban legend among our staff that somewhere in the sub-basements of Town Hall there’s a passageway that connects our building to the Seattle underground. The renovation’s foreman told us it’s unlikely—but the team is keeping their eyes peeled just in case![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Stained to Perfection

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Stained to Perfection

The stained glass from our windows in the Great Hall is being removed for refurbishing. It’s unusual to see the Great Hall without those lively panes, but we’re excited to see how they look when they return to us restored! Until the glass returns, these windows will be boarded up with large plywood panels to help weatherproof the room.

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