Since the early ’90s, Indiana University (IU) has repeatedly called upon Kirkegaard to oversee the acoustics design of expanded facilities for the Jacobs School of Music, which prides itself as one of the largest and most prestigious music schools in the country with over 1,600 students and 170 full-time faculty.
Kirkegaard’s work began with the adaptive reuse and extensive renovation of the former Wright High School building to create the Simon Music Center, which includes classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, a recording arts suite, the 100-seat Ford-Crawford Hall, the William and Gayle Cook Music Library containing one of the largest music collections in the US, and an addition wing addition featuring a lecture hall, a large warm-up room, and the 400-seat Auer Hall.
Motorized sound-absorbing banners in Auer Hall allow the hall’s reverberation to be catered to the varying rehearsal and performance uses, ranging from soloist and small/medium ensembles to organ recitals. Expanded room volume for increased reverberation is contributed by large openings in the coffered ceiling, for extended height up to the gable roof, in addition to side seating terraces at both main and upper floor levels along the main audience seating and performance stage, which provide an assortment of perspectives for experiencing music in the hall. Plaster wall finishes combined with solidly-grouted masonry walls and a concrete roof slab provides listeners with full spectrum support for bass to high frequency sound.
In 2003, IU engaged Kirkegaard to conduct an acoustical study of existing conditions within their opera-house-style performance venue, the Musical Arts Center. Listening experiments conducted onstage while working closely with music faculty and student musicians were pivotal to our assessment of potential upgrades to the orchestra shell, proscenium surround, orchestra pit/forestage extension, performer riser systems, and house surface treatments.
As the Jacobs School of Music continued to expand, another point in time was reached where the capacity of faculty teaching studios had been outgrown and a substantial expansion was needed. Kirkegaard was engaged during the initial programming and conceptual design stages to study various building sites and arrangements to prioritize needs in comparison to available funding. These efforts culminated in the development of the the East Studio Building, which provides 84 additional faculty teaching studios, 15 percussion practice rooms, conference rooms, and administrative offices that continue to advance their world-class instruction.
The combination of a concrete and masonry skeleton outfitted with resiliently-supported walls, floors, and ceilings allow one-on-one music instruction to take place simultaneously in adjacent music spaces throughout the building. Audio/video infrastructure and video conferencing systems give faculty the ability to conduct auditions and lessons with students all over the globe.
Finishes consisting of natural hardwood and terrazzo remind faculty and students alike that they are well-respected. Windows throughout the building interior transfer daylight to hallways and other non-perimeter spaces. The building uses sustainable and energy-efficient elements such as recycled materials, FSC wood, daylighting, lighting controls, LED lighting, low-flow plumbing, variable-flow equipment, and an air unit that brings in fresh air while recapturing energy that would otherwise exit the building.
The project was an excellent candidate for a process we often advocate for achieving high-quality: whole room mock-ups. Three faculty studios were constructed in advance of the rest of the building so that each step in constructing these unique rooms could be confirmed and acoustical testing conducted to confirm the final product and establish the high standard that prevailed throughout the construction process.