The Performing Arts & Humanities Building, designed and constructed in two phases, houses the 375-seat Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall, a 280-seat Proscenium Theatre, and a 130-seat Black Box Theatre. Kirkegaard focused on acoustics, building services noise and vibration control, and audiovisual consulting services for the performance and supporting backstage spaces. “This new building, the largest on our campus, speaks to the central role that the arts and humanities play in shaping our students as thinkers and as citizens,” said President Freeman Hrabowski. “It is designed to foster interaction and collaboration, and it supports the kind of interdisciplinary work that inspires our students and helps them develop as innovators and leaders.” The project has achieved LEED Gold Certification and received numerous awards, including a 2014 Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Architects Baltimore Chapter and a 2014 Wavemaker Award from the Urban Land Institute.
The Concert Hall’s uses are particularly wide-ranging, including choral and instrumental ensemble performances, student recitals, choral rehearsals, lectures, and electronically composed music performed via the installed surround sound system. The space’s volume achieves the desired reverberation for choral and instrumental works and the room’s extensive, motorized adjustable acoustics elements soften reverberation for jazz, percussion, and electronic music. When greater intimacy is desired for smaller performances and classes, seating on the choral terrace combined with motorized wagons that extend seating rows on to the stage provide an opposite room orientation with audience or class students occupying the seating rows. An unfolding and continuously hinged acoustical shell, custom-designed by Kirkegaard, can further enhance acoustical intimacy by being deployed onstage to serve as a backdrop for both the forward-facing and reverse-facing room orientations.