Casper College School of Music

Embedded in a hillside at the entrance to Casper College, the concave School of Music symbolically embraces visitors while the luminous roof monitor artistically communicates the building’s academic function. Internally, these two architectural movements define the building’s main lobby and concourse and offer an abundance of natural daylight.

The remaining organization of the building neatly folds various rehearsal and performance spaces into a coherent whole. The programmatic spaces include a concert hall, instrumental rehearsal hall, percussion rehearsal suite, choral rehearsal hall, recording suite, classrooms, practice rooms, faculty studios and support spaces. Grace Hebert Curtis Architects partnered with MOA Architecture to create rich, varied and acoustically correct spaces.

The building features local materials that reference and reflect the surrounding landscape and integrates the stacked stone retaining wall design found throughout the campus and region. That same stone texture continues into the lobby and flanks both entrances to the concert hall. Texturized plaster panels (painted to mimic red dirt or brick) and undulating panels in and around the concert hall create a wavy texture, evoking the region’s ever-present winds sweeping over the prairie grasses. Painted “clouds” on the ceiling mask technical equipment and provide sound reflection.

The instrument rehearsal hall has retractable sound-absorbing curtains at “shelf” level above the teaching wall and full-height curtains on the rear wall for adjusting acoustics. All surfaces contain a pattern of both sound-absorbing and sound-diffusing panels.

Project Size: 34,815 square feet

Location: Casper, WY

Completed: 2013

Pedestrian-friendly Design

The slope of the site allowed the team to create a pedestrian path from the upper campus through the building’s upper lobby, which opens to the first-floor lobby below and allows patrons to easily access the ground floor. Grace Hebert Curtis Architects also worked with MOA Architects to address site and climatic challenges related to the freeze/thaw cycle and dewatering.

Accommodating Small And Large Groups

The tiered choral rehearsal space also accommodates small recitals, featuring large drapes that change the room’s acoustics as needed. Wood slats at the tops of the walls warm the space and also break up sound.

Diffusing Design

The percussion rehearsal hall uses a variety of methods to diffuse and absorb sound, including acoustic block and alternating soft- and hard-shaped acoustical panels. Instrument storage cabinets are faced with sound-absorbing panels, and curved ceiling diffusers further disperse sound.

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