Curtis Institute of Music – Lenfest Hall

Project Type: Theaters & Concert Venues

Curtis Institute of Music – Lenfest Hall
Philadelphia, PA
Architect: VSBA Architects

In August of 2011, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, doubled the size of their campus with the addition of Lenfest Hall, designed by renowned Philadelphia architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. The new building includes 32 studios, practice spaces, classrooms, student housing, a fifth floor garden terrace, dining facilities, and a rehearsal hall. Curtis desired a building that did not just provide them with teaching and housing space, but embraced all of the experiences that Curtis has to offer its students. VSBA’s design for Lenfest Hall incorporates contemporary features and 21st-century technology yet recognizes Curtis’s long standing heritage and the architectural landscape of the neighborhood. Lenfest Hall includes Curtis Institute’s first venture into on-campus student housing; there are 18 suites providing room for 80 students. The result is a building that is inviting and inspirational.

Incorporating today’s Audio/Visual technology along with expansion for tomorrow into a space as architecturally significant as Lenfest Hall was the challenge that Metropolitan Acoustics’ A/V system design team was tasked with. The 3200 sq.ft. Gould Rehearsal Hall serves as the primary rehearsal space for the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. It can also facilitate large group instruction, special events, and advanced audio and video recording sessions. Curtis wanted to provide their students and staff with a feature-rich A/V system that was extremely flexible, easy for the staff to operate and manage, and that did not take away from the focus of the space – music education. The system includes a high- brightness, high-definition video projector that retracts above the acoustic clouds when not in use; an 8 ½-ft. tall by 14-ft. wide projection screen that descends 12-ft. from the 28-ft. high ceiling as needed; multiple audio and video interface locations around the room to connect cameras for recording and broadcasting; a basic digital audio recording system for daily operations; and a touch screen interface to manage it all. The system also includes several hundred audio, video, data, and fiber tie lines that connect the surrounding classrooms and practice spaces to a third floor control room.

To minimize the architectural impact that the A/V system has on the Gould Rehearsal Hall, the speakers were painted black and mounted above and between the acoustic clouds, and all of the local A/V system equipment is housed within custom casework. These efforts to minimize the aesthetic impact of the A/V system were reflected in the other spaces at Lenfest Hall, including the classrooms, larger practice rooms, a dining hall, and the Locks Board Room. Thanks to advances in A/V technology, the spaces are equipped with projection systems that feature a “wireless connect” option, which allows anyone in the room with a wireless network connection to transmit their presentation directly to the projector without connecting a single cable. All of the A/V systems installed at Curtis are managed and monitored 24/7 by an A/V management software and hardware package. This provides maintenance data, room statuses, remote helpdesk information, and troubleshooting capabilities to Curtis’s A/V staff from on and off campus.

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