Macalaster College – Music School and Arts Commons

In the first phase of a comprehensive renovation and expansion of Macalester College’s Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center the design team transformed the existing music building and central commons built in 1963 into a collaborative space for the entire college. The College believes that exposure to the Arts is important for all of it’s students and surrounding community and wanted to create a space that inspired that philosophy. The renovation include four major themes:

Art Commons
Music Building
Concert Hall
Exterior Facade

The new Arts Commons creates an inclusive front door to the arts community on campus. Inspired by an informal village square the Commons attracts students and visitors from all sides of campus into it’s energetic, sun dappled gathering space. The space organizes circulation between the fine arts buildings and provides display space for student and faculty art work. The warmth of the materials, accent lighting and comfortable furniture draws students and faculty in from all over campus as a social hub and meeting space. The flexibility of the space also allows to serve as a popular spot for community events.

The Music Building and Concert Hall renovation reconfigured and transformed the space into a state of the art facility with increased size, functionality and flexibility. Connected to the commons, the concert hall is surrounded by undulating red-oak wood slats in a pattern inspired by the idea of polyrhythm to create a staccato textures. Similar aspects of this patterning was then brought into other design elements including the floor finishes, pendant lighting, signage and the exterior facade.

  • Type higher education, interior design, finish specification, furniture specification, signage

Dappled sunlight streams through the Art Commons. This modern 'village square' draws students and staff from all over campus as a central meeting space.

First level floor plan with furniture selections

Durable yet comfortable materials and furniture were chosen that could handle the wear and tear of a high use area while creating an inviting space.

warm finishes used throughout to creating an inviting atmosphere.

The 2000 SF formal art gallery is used to display the rotating work from student and faculty. The gallery, along with critique rooms, media rooms and faculty offices frame the Art Commons space.

The art gallery includes movable partitions for high flexibility and durable stained concrete floor to withstand traffic and abuse.

Accent lighting and carpets play off the staccato patterning found throughout the space.

Brightly lit classrooms were design to maximize views and natural lighting. Flexible furniture allows for various layout and use of of space.

The two main rehearsal halls were designed with high attention to acoustical performance including custom reflective ceiling panels, absorptive acoustic wall panels and curtains, resilient flooring that diminished footfall noise.

custom designed signage throughout included wayfinding and donor signage. Donor wall included donor names to randomly 'float' on back-lit fritted glass.