University of Iowa's Music Renaissance

May 22, 2019

The disastrous 2008 flood in Iowa led to the necessary closing of the long-standing Voxman Music Building at University of Iowa.

Iowa City, Iowa
LMN Architects, Seattle, Neumann Monson Architects

As a result of Hurricane Michael, school leadership knew that they had to completely relocate, as well as redo the entire building to better fit student needs.

With $743 million in FEMA aid, the University of Iowa embarked on a mission to rebuild. As part of this reconstruction effort, the university hired Seattle-based LMN Architects and local firm Neumann Monson Architects to relocate and rebuild a new $189 million, state-of-the-art, Voxman Music Building in downtown Iowa City. Lighting design firm HLB Los Angeles was brought in to create a well-orchestrated, yet quiet symphony of light that would enhance the finished color palette and promote the functional needs of the students, staff and visitors of the 184,000-sq.-ft. building.


The Voxman building was envisioned to be a concrete structure that would resemble a bento box in which simple tones and a minimal color palette would be used. The rehearsal spaces were meant to be spaces of inspiration that also offered the most optimal lighting conditions for students to read sheet music and practice. In each rehearsal space there are sculptural kites hanging from the ceiling that are designed to swarm and cluster to assist with the room’s acoustical properties. The lighting that was to be interwoven into the space needed to highlight the architecture to inspire students during rehearsals.


USAI Lighting’s BeveLED 2.1 Color Select fixtures were incorporated into these spaces given that they provided the highest intensity with the strongest uniformity in these rooms. Another critical element that these fixtures provided are their level of hardware that wouldn’t be affected by the constant and intense sound waves produced in the rooms by student performers. The USAI BeveLED 2.1 fixtures’ sleek design, stellar hardware and light intensity didn’t take away from the space’s design, but rather offered precise lighting conditions that brought to life the Voxman building unlike ever before.


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