Showtime for music building

new music buildingPhoto credit: Tanya Barrientos

Of all the sounds floating in the air of the renovated Music Building and its brand-new addition, the one that may be most welcome is the sound of silence.

“We used to have to compete with the ambulances and the helicopters,” says Jeffrey Kallberg, chairman of the Music Department. “Now, you can’t hear anything except the music.” That’s because much of the new construction and the renovation focused on improving the building’s acoustics, including extensive soundproofing.

Faculty, staff and students have already moved into the building, located at 201 S. 34th St., making good use of three new state-of-the-art classrooms, nine practice rooms, a computer lab and a recording studio. Kallberg says plans are being made to hold an official open house sometime in April, when the new landscaping will be complete. “We have to wait on the weather for that,” he says.

According to University Architect David Hollenberg, the Music Building project combined Penn’s dedication to historic renovation with its interest in contemporary design and environmental sustainability. In keeping with Penn’s Climate Action Plan, the new structure is the first LEED Silver-certified academic building to be constructed on campus.

The new addition project, designed by Ann Beha Architects of Boston, with Daniel J. Keating Company of Narberth serving as the contractor, paid particular attention to the use of recycled and salvaged building materials, the installation of an environmentally-responsible rainwater filtration system and the use of low-emission adhesives, paint and carpet. The construction cost, Hollenberg says, was approximately $12.7 million.

Originally designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Cope & Stewardson, the historic structure was built in 1890. It was initially used as a home for orphaned girls. Penn acquired the building in 1899.

Originally published on March 4, 2010