Committee approves recital hall addition and renovations at University Park

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning today (May 4) recommended the final plan approval and expenditure of funds for a recital hall addition and renovations to Music I building. The projects will be presented to the full board for a vote on Friday, May 5. 

The existing Esber Recital Hall in the School of Music, part of the College of Arts and Architecture, has substandard acoustics and the mechanical systems are aged and create excessive noise. In addition, the School of Music has outgrown its ensemble rehearsal spaces, and its largest ensembles are crowded into spaces that are not suitable acoustically or physically for these groups. The school currently serves 325 enrolled music majors plus an additional 2,000 students who enroll each semester in the high-quality academic courses designed to fulfill general education requirements.  

The project includes renovation of Esber Recital Hall into a large ensemble rehearsal space with a 400-seat recital hall added to the east side of the building, offering an excellent acoustic environment for rehearsals and recitals. The seating in the new hall will be arranged in what is known as “vineyard seating,” allowing the audience to surround the musicians for a more intimate performance experience. This seating style also capitalizes on the natural circular distribution of sound waves, producing high-quality recital acoustics for performers in the School of Music. 

Exterior rendering of Esber Recital Hall renovation

The proposed $25.5 million Esber Recital Hall renovation will provide additional space for performances and rehearsals, as well as updates to public and storage spaces. The work will also address issues with acoustics, excessive noise and old mechanical systems.

Image: Penn State

“We are thrilled to begin this much-needed renovation and construction project that will improve and expand facilities for our talented students and world-class faculty in the School of Music,” said Barbara Korner, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture. “This project will not only provide additional space for performances and rehearsals, but ensure those spaces have appropriate acoustics for musicians and audience members alike. These new facilities will better reflect the quality of the School of Music’s excellent programs, students and faculty.” 

Other improvements include updates to patron support spaces, the creation of preparation areas for performers and storage facilities, a new ticket and lobby space for the public, and the replacement of the HVAC building systems. Exterior work will include outdoor gathering spaces, landscaping and sidewalks.  

The committee recommended approval of the design and project budget of $25.5 million with the funding to come from the Commonwealth and capital reserves.  

The Penn State School of Music is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of programs to help students develop as performers, teachers and scholars.  

In addition, the School of Music offers more than 400 public events each year in Penn State’s many performance venues, including Esber Recital Hall, Eisenhower Chapel, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Eisenhower Auditorium, and the Palmer Museum of Art. In addition to the President’s Concerts, several of the school’s ensembles tour widely, both within the United States and abroad.  




Last Updated May 05, 2017