Workers push to complete the Sid on time

Daily News - By Tom Di Nardo
December 6, 2001

EVEN WITH 600 workers pulling overtime and weekend shifts in these last weeks of construction, the Kimmel Center, aka the Sid, will not be fully completed by its Dec. 15 deadline.

But those finishing touches are minor, and won't interfere with the opening concerts and the celebrations. According to George Schaeffer, the center's project manager, most of the work will be done next month.

"We never tried to pretend that everything will be done by the 15th," said Schaeffer. "There's a difference between being open and being complete, and we will perform as scheduled."

Realityville sets in, and we had to choose between opening or waiting three months until everything is perfect. We chose to open, so the community could enjoy and support the space."

Verizon Hall is virtually completed, except that the "chair wagon" which rolls out the front three rows of seats is not yet operable. That means that the opening concerts will be performed without those seats, and with the 10-foot stage extension, which normally would only be used for a large choral work.

In the Perelman Theater, there are more details to be completed, but they are not expected to delay any concerts. The rigging system for stage sets will wait until January. The final wooden finishes for the shell are not completed, and for the first week, concerts will go on in a painted theater without the architectural woodwork.

Also not done are the "bridges" which will allow access to seating on the shell behind the performers in the upper rows. The permanent lighting will come later as well.

Some unfinished items in the center will not be apparent to concert-goers. The education center on the third floor will not be done for a month or so, and the underground garage will be used as a storage area until after the first of the year.

Considering the enormous construction challenge and the locked-in deadline of scheduled performances, these are relatively minor touches and will be finished off in the next few months.

As scheduled, the Sid will open with 16 days of programs, including 130 free performances for the public to savor.

For those who have been waiting since the days of Leopold Stokowski for this facility, 99 percent complete sounds like music at last.

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