Hill Hall began as a Carnegie Library, later becoming home to UNC Chapel Hill's music department with an auditorium addition in 1931. This renovation transformed a problematic auditorium into the handsome 455-seat James and Susan Moeser Recital Hall. The project keys were to restore the best aspects of the historic spaces by making graceful changes to improve their function and to modernize the room's technology with updated audiovisual systems. The auditorium was badly compromised with confusing acoustics, a strangely-shaped stage and outdated technology. An entirely new stage enclosure provides a comfortable acoustic environment, ideal for chamber music and voice and able to accommodate a full orchestra. The audience seating was redesigned to minimize acoustic differences from light versus heavy occupancy, to provide accessible routes to the center of the audience and the stage, and to improve sight lines for performance and projection. A fully networked audio system for speech and music was architecturally integrated to provide clean amplified sound and clear sources for archival recording. A modern projection system was installed, and infrastructure was provided for multi-camera live streaming. Additional subtle changes have transformed the hall’s acoustics. Heavy secondary glazing at the side wall windows protects audiences from exterior noise. The slightly angled glass works with gently curved shaping at side wall niches to sustain vibrant reverberation with a smooth, mellow quality. Deeply curved shaping at the rear wall provides a clear, enveloping sound for audiences and helpful feedback for musicians. Retractable sound-absorbing banners give the hall flexibility to be pleasantly live for choral or controlled for jazz or concert band. New quiet air conditioning was added building wide, and back and front of house spaces were upgraded. The auditorium suffered from an inaccessible backstage and insufficient support. A loading dock, infrastructure to support touring shows, production communications, accessible dressing rooms and storage were added. Architect Quinn Evans restored the lobby (once the library’s reading room) to its original shape and reactivated a historic skylight. The discreet addition of absorption keeps the new lobby a comfortable place to study or gather for a concert. Smaller rooms around the lobby were lightly renovated and now serve as music offices and classrooms.
Project Details
Audiovisual Systems Design
Mechanical Noise Control
Room Acoustics Design
Sound Isolation
Quinn Evans Architects, Architect, Washington DC
Theatre Consultants Collaborative, Theatre Consultants, Chapel Hill, NC
34,000 gsf
455-seat recital hall
Chapel Hill