A New Reason to Be Proud of San Diego

First opened in the Summer of 2021, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is an architectural wonder on the edge of San Diego Bay and the heart of downtown. Years in the making, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is the soaring culmination of a long-time civic desire to have a state of the art concert venue that elevates the experience of live music while also serving as a public center for all of San Diego. Like well-known national venues such as Wolf Trap, Tanglewood and Ravinia, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park provides a sparkling summer home for the San Diego Symphony.

Principals and Partnerships: Made possible by an agreement between the San Diego Symphony and the Unified Port of San Diego, the Embarcadero Marina Park South site provides the community with a venue where culture and nature intersect, where music and a restored park are combined to give San Diegans a unique gathering place. Managed and programmed by the Symphony, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park and surrounding park represents a partnership of business and the arts in service of the community. 

“Business leaders no longer need to choose between arts and economic development. An investment in the arts is an investment in an industry that supports jobs, generates revenue and helps encourage new business to our region.”
Mark Cafferty, President and CEO
San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

Almost entirely funded by private philanthropy, the five-year long project was led by the San Diego Symphony and a host of business and government leaders. Complementing the city’s Downtown renaissance, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, with its dramatic design and unique waterfront location, greatly enhances opportunities for tourism, residential life and business growth.

Venue Programming: Led by our Music Director Rafael Payare, the Orchestra brings to audiences both the most beloved works of classical music as well as the brilliant new composers of our time. As in years past, the best in popular music and guest artists are also well represented at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park Experience: For San Diego concertgoers The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park sets a new standard in customer experience. Besides the visual splendor of the natural setting by the bay and the architectural drama that is The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park itself patrons find comfortable seating either in table settings up close, rows of seating in mid-range and lawn seating at the top of the Skyline Terrace.

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park replaces the temporary performance and event venue of the past with permanent facilities at Embarcadero Marina Park South for the use and benefit of the community. The development of the park and venue features a permanent, architecturally remarkable and acoustically superior stage that allows the Symphony to enhance its musical presentations and the visitor experience. Terraced seating allows visitors unobstructed views from nearly all seating locations.

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park was developed through a collaboration among the San Diego Symphony and leading design and construction experts.

Tucker Sadler Architects was lead designer and architect of record of this state-of-the-art venue. Greg Mueller, the firm’s CEO and Design Principal, was involved with the project from its inception several years ago. He and his team were responsible for The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park as a whole, encompassing the performance shell, backstage artist support spaces, three professional kitchens, underground restrooms, a gracefully sloped seating area for up to 10,000, and a park open to the public on one of the most beautiful settings between San Diego Bay and the San Diego skyline.

A key partner was Soundforms, designer of the performance shell. Soundforms and its London partners Flanagan Lawrence, Expedition and ES Global designed the award-winning 2012 mobile acoustic performance shell (MAPS) to be temporary and acoustically excellent. Working together Tucker Sadler, Soundforms expanded the design to accommodate a large orchestra with chorus and soloists and to be a permanent structure on the Embarcadero Marina Park South site.

Sound Consultant Shawn Murphy worked closely with San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer and the entire design team to ensure the creation of the best possible acoustic environment. He introduced to the team a San Francisco-based firm, Salter, dedicated to acoustic and sound engineering and audiovisual components. Berkeley-based Meyer Sound designed the signature Constellation System, used here in its first outdoor installation, which creates an onstage acoustic equivalent to the high standard of indoor concert halls. The combination of the shell design with Salter’s acoustic paneling, the Meyer Constellation system and the custom designed L-Acoustic surround reinforcement system, has created the best possible acoustic experience for performers, which translates across a wide range of musical genres into an extraordinary sonic experience for audiences.

Another key partner in creating the performance shell is the Australia-based company Fabritecture, which developed and oversaw the technical design, fabrication and installation of the tensile structure of the performance shell, as well as the backstage support spaces, executive kitchen, the box office and two dining pavilions.

Two further design partners are HLB, which completed the architectural lighting design, and Schuler Shook, which completed the theater lighting and rigging design.

Burton Landscape Architecture Studio is the official landscape architect of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

A work of art in itself, the acoustically engineered stage features a concert shell designed to complement the San Diego Convention Center sails and surrounding downtown development. The stage provides a larger performance space for both the orchestra and guest artists. Additional project design components include:

  • Covered stage with 13,000 square feet of performance space and ancillary back-of-house facilities
  • Sunset steps and patio at the back of the performance stage for stunning views of the Bay and public use during non-event hours
  • Flexible seating capacity varying from intimate seating up to 10,000
  • Terraced seating to provide all concert guests unobstructed views from nearly every seat
  • Temporary seating that allows for lawns to be open to the public during non-event periods
  • New public restrooms; lighting; extensive public park enhancements throughout Jacobs Park; and other public amenities
  • Enhanced public promenade around the venue expands to 12 feet
  • Improved and environmentally sustainable landscaping and trees
  • Sand-based synthetic turf in the main seating area and pre-event spaces, which reduces water consumption and is more environmentally friendly
  • The venue is part of Jacobs Park, inside the larger Embarcadero Marina Park; the park is open to the general public during non-event hours.

The San Diego Symphony is bringing a wide range of artists and music to this unique venue. Our programming at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park reflects all genres of music, allowing the Symphony to embrace the diversity of our city and audience. The enhanced sound system (see design questions below) allows greater enjoyment than ever of outdoor classical music performances, resulting in more classical music programming. A wide variety of programming, both Symphony-produced and rental partner-provided, is expected to fill The Rady Shell calendar annually from May through December.

Yes! Every section is ADA accessible with designated seats available. ADA seating will tend to be on the most easily accessible, outside edges of each section. ADA seating for both transfer and non-transfer wheelchairs, companion and semi-ambulatory as well as restrooms, are available at each performance, and can be purchased online or through the Ticket Office. Wheelchairs will also be available when appropriate to transfer you to your seating. Please notify the Ticket Office in advance at 619.235.0804 for any special accommodation or assistance needs or questions.

Generally, for Symphony-produced concerts, YES; for rental concert events, NO, unless a Lawn section is specifically provided. (Note: chairs will be provided in the designated ADA seating zones for ALL rental events.) Please check the Calendar Event page of your concert for any special conditions in effect. There are not folding chairs available to rent at the venue, but blankets are available for purchase.

  • Children ages two and older require a ticket. All others must sit in an adult’s lap, and can do so for free.
  • The San Diego Symphony requests that parents use discretion regarding the age-appropriateness of children attending a full-length concert at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.
  • Should a child become disruptive during a concert, we ask that the parent discreetly escort the child away from the audience area. We greatly appreciate your consideration in this regard.

Due to heightened security concern, we are specifying the following at The Rady Shell: guests may bring in one soft-sided bag per person, not to exceed 16”x16”x8”. No coolers are permitted. All bags and containers are subject to inspection by security prior to entering the venue. Note: food and beverages will not be allowed in the venue, in bags, containers or otherwise. In an effort to reduce waste, guests are welcome to bring one empty reusable plastic or aluminum water bottle for San Diego Symphony performances only. Bottles can be filled at water refill stations inside the venue. Glass bottles are not permitted.

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park has become an important public resource as a site for a wider range of private and public events and performances than was possible before; it activates Jacobs Park year-round as a community gathering space and a landmark waterfront attraction. The Park includes relocated, upgraded exercise stations. Embarcadero Marina Park South/Jacobs Park hours are 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily. During most concert evenings, the interior portions of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park facility will be closed to the public beginning at 2pm until the venue opens to ticketed admissions at least 90 minutes before the performance begins. (For certain concerts, the interior will be closed beginning in the morning as well, watch for signage.)

Yes, restrooms are available to the public during regular Park hours, though they become unavailable when the site moves into “concert” mode. There are public bathrooms adjacent to the fishing pier at the SE edge of the park.

If you think you may have lost or left an item behind at The Rady Shell, you may call 619.269.5964 to make an inquiry. This line is monitored 24/7. Found items will be stored for 30 days. Please call the security office to arrange for a time to claim your items.