Ennead, Design Architect
Integrated Design Solutions, Architect of Record
The University of Michigan has one of the finest music schools in the United States, housed since 1963 in a landmark Eero Saarinen building. This understated brick modernist structure has long suffered from too-low ceilings and compromised acoustic isolation. In programming, which was key to the project’s success, KA established a rationale for improving the existing building by shifting the loudest and most compromised activities into an uncompromised, substantial addition, the Brehm Pavilion.
The largest room in the Brehm Pavilion is Hankinson Rehearsal Hall, the primary rehearsal space for orchestras and concert bands. It is 50% taller than the original large ensemble rehearsal hall, so musicians can now enjoy a comfortable loudness level, excellent communication, and a pleasant level of reverberation. The old rehearsal hall has been renovated for jazz, percussion, and choral rehearsals, music which works well with the room’s more limited volume. Kevreson Rehearsal Hall’s new motorized curtaining, with diffusive surfaces behind, makes the room remarkably flexible.
The new 90-seat Watkins Lecture Hall is designed specifically for music lectures and master classes. It has a full complement of AV equipment, but its natural acoustics support unamplified lectures and small-scale recitals. An extensive suite of highly-isolated percussion practice, rehearsal, and teaching rooms shifts the loudest users out of the existing building’s practice wing and into the Brehm Pavilion.
Targeted renovations have transformed the feel and function of the entire facility. The 125-seat McIntosh Theater was reworked to better support the choral and opera program, while still functioning as a recital space for louder instruments. New overhead reflectors, new stage walls, more versatile curtains, and rebuilt side walls have transformed this space. Some larger and better isolated practice rooms were added in the old practice wing, and the remaining old practice rooms were upgraded to improve isolation and internal acoustics. Comfortable student lounge space was created nearby.
Three new high-ceilinged classrooms are deliberately designed to support classes in the mornings and small ensemble rehearsals in the afternoon and evening. A gracious new lobby gives the Brehm a clear entry and its acoustics are deliberately designed to make it a pleasant space for receptions.
The Brehm Technology Innovation Suite and its Chip Davis Technology Studio provide carefully designed facilities for making and manipulating recordings, and for exploring possibilities for electronic music and the intersection of music and image.