Patterhn Ives llc, Architect; St. Louis, MO
Schuler Shook, Theatre Consultant; Minneapolis, MN
Missouri State University Ellis Hall is a handsome 1957 modernist, music building that has long suffered from poor sound isolation and unremarkable, undersized performance spaces. Kirkegaard worked closely with Patterhn Ives on a comprehensive renovation that included replacing the building mechanical systems and much of its curtain wall. The interior is a virtual gut/rehabilitation, but wherever possible existing walls are incorporated into new sound-isolating assemblies. The scale of the project compared to the budget required the design team to find carefully calibrated solutions for what to reuse and what to replace.
The users emphasized the importance of the recital hall, which could not be dramatically improved without increasing volume. The solution was to demolish the hall’s floor slab to capture the room volume from an under-used rehearsal room below while preserving the upstage pipe organ and a handsome wood side wall. The result is a gorgeous, new 240 seat recital hall in the shell of the old hall. The junior recital hall was created by making modifications to the existing lecture hall with significant improvement to the acoustics for supporting musical performances. The improvements included new upstage wall shaping to provide useful sound reflections from stage to the audience and rear wall diffusive shaping to break up the undesirable existing concave shape.
To complete the renovation, Kirkegaard provided a design for new audio-video systems and worked with the mechanical engineer to keep the new HVAC systems quiet.