Salem Massachusetts 2004

+ Information


  • Renovation of 3,000 sf factory boiler plant into 200-seat recital hall
  • Support spaces include backstage Green Room, instrument storage, and lobby


    Renovated in a former manufacturing plant, the new Central Campus at Salem State College houses the School of Music as well as other facilities that service the three Salem State campuses. Design of the Recital Hall, the premier venue of the Music Department, followed completion of a master plan for the Central Campus. Lined with convex fiddleback mahogany panels of varying width and radius, this chamber for teaching music also performs. An instrument shaped to deliver warm intimate acoustics, the design physically embodies musical concepts of harmonic proportion: as a vibrating string is shortened, frequency increases; shortened by half, tone rises exactly one octave; harmonic overtone is the division of the fundamental length by two, three, or four times, to yield second, third and fourth harmonics. Wall details play a role: horizontal metal lines akin to fiddle strings or staff lines play off verticals of ebonized wood akin to frets or bars on sheet music. The architecture represents the connection between harmony and proportion while causing the performers’ sound to reverberate and disperse, a chamber of music for the mind. Taylor & Burns was design consultant with expertise in education and performing arts to ICON, prime architect. The complex is lauded as a "smart" campus, incorporating a $4.3 million Federal grant for state-of-the-art technological infrastructure


  • The Recital Hall is part of extensive brownfield reclamation and building reuse project. The central campus building, which has LEED-EB status
  • The building envelope was totally re-lined with thermal and vapor barrier to conserve energy, exceeding energy code requirements
  • Voluminous fresh air needs are mitigated by energy-efficient HVAC system: CO2 levels trigger fresh outdoor air intake that is tempered with energy recovered by heat-exchangers from the exhaust airstream
  • Fiddleback panels are made of thin veneers of sustainably-harvested mahogany laminated to a substrate of rapidly-renewable cellulose fiberboard
  • Carpet is 95% recycled content


  • Honor Award for Design Excellence
  • Boston Society of Architects, 2008