The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects

The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Windows, Brick, FacadeThe University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Windows, Brick, FacadeThe University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Image 4 of 6The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Table, Chair, LightingThe University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - More Images+ 1

  • Mep Engineer, Fire Protection: AHA Consulting Engineers
  • Landscape Architect: Stephen Stimson Associates
  • Acoustician & Audio/Visual Consultant: Kirkegaard Associates
  • Materials Conservationist: Building Conservation Associates
  • Specifications Writer: Kalin Associates
  • Graphics Consultant: Wojciechowski Design
  • Hardware Consultant: Ingersoll Rand
  • Cost Estimator: The McGee Company
  • Project Area: 13,800 sf Renovation
  • Architect: Ann Beha Architects
  • Audio Visual Consultant: Kirkegaard Associates
  • Audiovisual Consultant: Kirkegaard Associates
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Country: United States
More SpecsLess Specs

Text description provided by the architects. Ann Beha Architects designed the award-winning Music Building at the University of Pennsylvania. The project consolidates distributed academic resources; revitalizes a prominent 19th century landmark; provides new community spaces for faculty and students, and serves as a model for the compatibility of historic and contemporary design expression. As the campus’ first LEED Gold building, this project demonstrates that preservation, new design, and program can together produce a sustainable result.

The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Windows, Brick, Facade
© David Lamb Photography

The Music Building is located in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania’s historic campus core, and is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Architects, Cope & Stewardson designed the building and the neighboring Morgan Building in 1892 as a dormitory and school for a girl’s orphanage. Later converted into University physics labs, the building was extended with a series of small additions, congesting the site on busy campus paths.


The Music Department was overcrowded and underserved. Its programs were acoustically compromised and hidden from view. The University wanted to consolidate the network of music classrooms and provide new practice rooms, instructional spaces, faculty offices for tutorials and composition, and spaces to encourage faculty, students, and performers to collaborate. The Department needed extensive upgrades to their existing building and new facilities to support teaching, research, and student life. On a campus with many engineering and science majors, the Department wanted all students to feel welcome in music programs, ensembles, and classes.

The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Image 4 of 6
© David Lamb Photography

This project began with a thorough investigation of the landmark building, its history, original design, and context. The restoration included rebuilding original windows; cleaning and repairing decorative brick, terra cotta and bluestone masonry; and restoring ornamental wood roof brackets and overhangs. The interior was renovated and upgraded structurally, mechanically, and acoustically to accommodate administrative and faculty offices. The original façade design was studied intently to create a design approach for the addition. Because the University and Design Team wanted a building where music was not only heard, but also seen, the addition is deliberately more transparent and welcoming, with views into the building from three pedestrian passages and multiple entries leading to one central gathering space. The addition is sympathetic to the existing building in its massing, materiality, and rhythm. It introduces a similarly colored terra cotta as a larger scaled rain screen system, generous expanses of glass with sun shades, and a metal cornice aligning with the broad roof overhang of the original structure; but its lightness and transparency contrast the solidity of the original building and openly display music activities to the University community. On each interior level, open circulation incorporates the restored east façade, and commons and lounges offer social spaces with views to the campus.

The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Windows, Brick, Facade
© David Lamb Photography

Acoustic performance was paramount to the building occupants. The Department’s most acoustically and technologically demanding functions— classrooms, practice rooms, recording studios, a computer teaching lab, and composition offices— are located in the addition, which offers high levels of isolation and in-room acoustics. The acoustics and audio/visual systems in the large classroom are designed to accommodate multiple functions, including instruction, performance, recording, and events. The former basement practice rooms were relocated to spaces with ample daylight, and common spaces for faculty and students on each floor acknowledge that collaboration and interaction among colleagues is a critical component to creative success.

The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects - Table, Chair, Lighting
© David Lamb Photography

Extensive acoustic and technological renovations in the existing building meet the practical demands of instruction and research while preserving its historic character— such as vibration isolation in wall, floor, and ceiling construction, and new interior glazing that resolves exterior noise infiltration while preserving the appearance of the original wood windows. By renewing the existing building and improving its acoustic performance, and by providing new teaching, composing, and rehearsal spaces in new construction, this project provides the Department with a complete and integrated setting for events and faculty, students and staff use.

In keeping with the University’s adopted Climate Action Plan, this project integrates multiple sustainable elements and is LEED Gold. The project exceeds energy standards with its use of efficient lighting and controls, mechanical, and plumbing systems. Other sustainable features include reduced site water use with planting material selection and “smart” controls that adjust irrigation based on rainfall levels; recycling or salvaging 95% of construction waste; use of recycled, reclaimed, and regionally produced materials; and sustainable housekeeping methods and cleaning products.

Project gallery

See allShow less

Project location

Address:Philadelphia, PA, USA

Click to open map
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "The University of Pennsylvania Music Building / Ann Beha Architects" 07 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.