University of Iowa Voxman Music Building

Iowa City, Iowa

Project Size:

184,000 square feetSeating capacity: 700 concert / 200 recital seats

Project Status:

Completed 2016

LEED Status:

Certified LEED New Construction Gold


Arts + Culture, Civic Design, Education Design, Interior Design, LMN Tech Studio

Associate Architect:

Neumann Monson Architects

Selected Awards

2020 AIA National

Honor Award for Interior Architecture

2018 WAN

Education Award

2018 AIA National Committee on Architecture for Education

Education Facility Design Award of Excellence

2018 IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter

INawards - Design INpublic Award

2018 Chicago Athenaeum

American Architecture Award

2017 AIA Seattle Chapter

Merit Award

2017 AIA Washington Council

Civic Design Award of Honor

2017 AIA Iowa Chapter

Excellence in Energy Efficient Design

2017 Architizer

Finalist, Architecture + Technology

2013 Architizer

Jury Choice Winner, Architecture + Modeling

2013 Architizer

Finalist, Architecture + Sound

2013 Architizer

Popular Choice Winner, Architecture + Fabrication

After severe flooding in 2008 damaged the previous School of Music facility beyond repair, University of Iowa music students found themselves without a home on campus or dedicated practice and performance spaces. The new Voxman Music Building relocates the School of Music from the Iowa River flood plain to a key intersection in downtown Iowa City. The six-story, 184,000-square-foot building reinforces the merger of campus and city, creating an entirely new relationship between academic and urban experiences.

The Voxman Music Building is designed for pedagogical flexibility, serendipitous collaboration, and impromptu performances, with extensive glazing making visual connections to downtown Iowa City and drawing the surrounding community inside. Naturally lit circulation volumes interlink to form a three-story lobby atrium and civic gathering area, a student commons, and a performance and rehearsal lobby. Dedicated performance spaces include a 700-seat Concert Hall and 200-seat Recital Hall, as well as rehearsal rooms, classrooms, private studios and teaching labs. A fourth-floor terrace serves as a green roof and gathering space that frames views to the city, historic courthouse, and countryside beyond.

Innovative interior and exterior systems elevate Voxman’s status as a high-profile community asset and performance facility. The building façade is animated by four varieties of dove grey terracotta tiles—flat, channeled, matte and reflective—that also provide sun shading and accentuate the internal composition of program spaces. A concrete structure provides acoustic separation between interior spaces, while felt “fins” soften these spaces and improve user comfort. The Concert Hall features a sculpted aluminum theatroacoustic ceiling element unifying acoustics, lighting, and life-safety requirements in a multi-functional architectural expression. Deep red acoustical paneling in the Recital Hall—visible from the exterior through a shingled-glass window wall that protrudes over South Clinton Street—optimizes the room’s sound environment. In the three major rehearsal spaces, high ceilings are filled with swarms of colored, kite-like reflectors that can be adjusted to meet a range of acoustic needs.

The new Voxman Music Building allows the School to achieve a three-fold mission: prepare the next generation of musicians; support the scholarly work of its faculty; and engage with the public. Voxman’s social spaces strengthen collaboration and a sense of community, while advanced technology and acoustical isolation provide a flexible laboratory for conducting innovative work.