The Music Building Gets a Tune-Up

Renovations to the Music Building finished this spring, and the 1892 original received more than a facelift in the approximately $15.8 million project. A new addition blends into the historic structure, doubling the space of the old floor plan while adding environmentally and acoustically advanced new classrooms, practice rooms, faculty offices, and a modern recording studio.

The rehabilitated building is the first on Penn’s campus to earn LEED Silver certification, a comprehensive environmental standard that covers everything from storm-water management to non-toxic housekeeping sprays. This standard even covers elements of the actual building process: 95 percent of the construction debris was recycled, and bricks were salvaged from the old 1911 wing as it was demolished. The classrooms and the computer lab have marmoleum floors, a linoleum substitute derived from linseed oil instead of petroleum. On the first floor, one classroom that can double as a recital hall features wood flooring reclaimed from a Connecticut barn. Boston-based Ann Beha Architects was the project architect. 

The new space got an acoustical makeover as well, and for faculty members who have already moved in, this might be the most striking update. James Primosch G’80, the Robert Weiss Professor of Music, recalls that in the bad old days, professors trying to teach in their offices had to compete with noise coming from practice rooms above and below. Now, he says, “if you go to my office, there’s a rubber gasket around the door [and] when it closes you’re pretty sealed in.” He also notes that his new office finally has adequate bookshelves—in addition to room for his baby grand piano. “We’re all grateful to have this fine space in which to work,” he says. 

—Sean Whiteman LPS’11

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