Rehearsal rooms feature custom acoustic “kite” systems, designed to enhance the electric lighting and daylighting systems. Because these acoustic reflectors are suspended as separate elements, rooms can be tuned by adding or subtracting reflectors instead of undergoing an extensive acoustic remodel.
Voxman Music Building
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
University of Iowa
Associate Architect: Neumann Monson Architects
General Contractor: Mortenson Construction
Acoustics: Jaffe Holden
Theater Planning: Fisher Dachs Associates
Structural Engineering: Magnusson Klemencic Associates
MEP Engineering: Design Engineers
Civil Engineering: Shive-Hattery
Landscape Architecture: Confluence
Lighting Design: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
184,000 square feet
700 concert / 200 recital
Certified LEED New Construction Gold
Architecture, Interior Design
In 2008 the University of Iowa sustained the worst natural disaster in its history when severe flooding sent the Iowa River over its banks and onto the campus. The existing Voxman Music Building was damaged beyond repair and the departments within the school were scattered across campus to a variety of makeshift locations. That experience both fractured the internal school relationships and prompted new connections with other departments on campus, inspiring the project to rethink its role within the local community.
The new Voxman Music Building relocates the School of Music to a key intersection in downtown Iowa City. The building reinforces the merger of campus and city, creating an entirely new relationship between academic and urban experiences. Designed for pedagogical flexibility, serendipitous collaboration, and impromptu performances, the building’s extensive glazing creates visual connections to downtown Iowa City, drawing the surrounding community inside. Seven large performance and ensemble spaces, designed for a variety of music typologies, are vertically composed on the restricted site, connecting the musical life within the building to its urban context. All 165 rehearsal studios and performance spaces are acoustically isolated and tunable—broadening the pedagogical spectrum and cultivating opportunities for active and passive education.
The Voxman Music Building allows the School to achieve its 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.
Photography: Tim Griffith, Adam Hunter, Main Street Studio
Rigid felt fins in acoustically separating concrete walls saved the University the cost of a secondary finish wall and provided embodied energy savings as well as a playful, tactile aesthetic.
“By every measure, the building has been an extraordinary success and is transformative in ways that we could not have imagined.”
– Rod Lehnertz, Senior Vice President, Finance & Operations + University Architect at the University of Iowa
2020 AIA National Honor Award for Interior Architecture
2018 AIA National Committee on Architecture for Education Facility Design Awards, Award of Excellence
2018 Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award
2018 IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter INawards – Design INpublic Award
2018 WAN Education Award
2017 Architizer Finalist, Architecture + Technology
2017 AIA Seattle Chapter Merit Award
2017 AIA Washington Council Civic Design Award of Honor
2017 AIA Iowa Chapter Excellence in Energy Efficient Design
2013 Architizer, Finalist, Architecture + Sound
2013 Architizer, Jury Choice Winner, Architecture + Modeling
2013 Architizer, Popular Choice Winner, Architecture + Fabrication
2013 Architizer, Popular Choice Winner, Architecture + Modeling