Voxman Music Building University of Iowa - Interior

Voxman Music Building
University of Iowa


Iowa City, Iowa


University of Iowa

Collaborators +

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

Graphics/Signage: Pentagram

Project Size

184,000 square feet

Seating Capacity

700 concert / 200 recital

Project Status



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

Voxman Music Building, University of Iowa - Interior

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 - Interior
Voxman Music Building, University of Iowa - Exterior

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
Neumann Monson Architects - Logo

Neumann Monson Architects

Associate Architect


Selected Awards

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