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The City of Hills Bandshell

Located in Hills, IA

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The Hills Bandshell was conceived as nestling forms of timber, metal and concrete, each material performing roles suited to its nature in service to the program. Douglas fir decking forms a warm, resonant acoustical chamber. Durable Alaskan yellow cedar timbers splay across the flattened conic section of the roof, their geometry adjusting subtly to varied angles of intersection while maintaining legible expression and structural efficiency. The concrete platform and wall provide durable performance and projection surfaces for live music and video presentations. Galvalume roofing protects both timber and occupants from weather, echoing the simple forms and materials of nearby farm buildings.

Structural bearing points and material interfaces are given space, light and air – heightening awareness of tectonics while serving functional roles of moisture protection as well as air and personal circulation. A red cedar screen wall protects occupants sitting on the integral bench from low sun and rain while still admitting cool breezes. The splayed building shape shelters occupants while redirecting sound to the audience and controlling viewing angles. A concrete projection wall faces the lawn and small parking lot, serving as a small walk-, bike- or drive-in movie theater. This ribbon of concrete continues via accessible walk around an existing tree to existing pedestrian routes, elegantly resolving multiple functional criteria in a simple formal gesture. Architects and engineers collaborated with craftsmen on detailing and species selection for best visual and functional performance.

The COVID-19 pandemic became an unexpected but timely proving ground for this outdoor, open-air structure. Ventilation features intended for cooling became important to performers’ safety, and the flexible viewing space offers the audience safe physical distances while strengthening close social bonds.


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