The College of Arts and Architecture
View from Curtain

Construction and Project Vision

After nearly six years of planning, construction began on June 1, 2017 on a new recital hall in the Walters Courtyard, to connect to Music I with a new lobby. The current Esber will be remodeled to include a large ensemble rehearsal room, new lobby, and many much needed front- and back-of-house spaces. In addition to the recital hall and remodeling in Esber, Music I is getting new windows, a sprinkler system, new floor tile in hallways, and new HVAC.

In August 2011, the University approved the College of Arts and Architecture Master Plan for facilities (becoming part of the overall University master plan). An improved recital hall was the top priority, and by building a new hall with excellent acoustics, the vacated space (in the Esber Recital Hall footprint) could be turned into a large ensemble rehearsal room. HVAC in Music I was also at the end of life, so it made sense to combine this necessary upgrade with other needed improvements.

We were thrilled when 40 design teams from all over the county expressed interest in our project, including many prominent architectural firms with experience building performance arts facilities. On October 30, 2015, the state selected a design team. The University appointed a Core Team to work with the designers, and we worked steadily beginning in January 2016 to come up with the ideas we are so excited to share with you.

 “Our Core Team feels very fortunate to be working with a great design team that helped us focus on key priorities to get the biggest bang for the buck,” said Sue Haug, former director of the School of Music at Penn State. “Our architects are wonderful (Bostwick’s partner William Rawn Associates also built Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood), and the partnership among all the consultants is just amazing. Our recital hall design is spectacularly beautiful—I think you will say ‘wow’ when you walk into the new hall. But the focus from the beginning has been an acoustically ideal hall that will serve us well for generations, and we believe we will realize this dream.”

“The large ensemble rehearsal space is where the magic really happens!” said Dennis Glocke, director of concert bands at Penn State. “Our new room promises to be transformative. Acoustical excellence has been a goal for this space, as well, with adjustable acoustics to provide clarity and vibrancy. The large instrument storage space will also be a welcome addition.”

The loss of Walters Courtyard is not being taken lightly. The landscape design has been a critical part of the building design to maintain a beautiful gathering space for the College of Arts and Architecture. The use of glass in the lobby and recital hall provides a high degree of transparency, making a visual connection between the interior and exterior and realizing the goal to project the energy and activity taking place within to new recital hall interiorthe campus community.

The Vision

•  425-seat recital hall with excellent (adjustable) acoustics in a "vineyard style," meaning that the seating surrounds the stage

•  New glass lobby overlooking the Walters Courtyard

•  Gorgeous landscaping in the new (and now smaller) courtyard with much-improved outdoor seating and access from the recital hall

•  New restrooms (to accommodate more patrons)

•  Greenroom that can also be used for small ensemble rehearsals during the day

•  New and improved box office

•  Catering room and staff lounge

•  Large ensemble rehearsal hall, with adjustable acoustics and ample storage

• Expanded entrance to Music I, with a larger student lounge area

•  Improved everything (!)—AV, acoustics, one-button technology, theatrical lighting, and new HVAC throughout Music I

Construction will take 14 months, so we hope to move into the new spaces in fall semester 2018. Watch our progress on this site as the dream takes shape.