Belle Skinner Hall of Music Library & Listening Classroom

Vassar College | Poughkeepsie, New York

The beautiful Collegiate Gothic Belle Skinner Hall houses the Vassar College Department of Music, originally established in 1865, and includes classrooms, offices, rehearsal spaces, a recital hall, and an extensive music library. The College, however, sought a renovation that would enhance the building’s support of the music program, promote cross-disciplinary study, and meet modern standards for accessibility and comfort.

To achieve these disparate goals, VMA produced an innovative design that would not only address structure and logistics, but also technical elements related to the creation of spaces like the video viewing room with the highest quality audio for experiencing musical theater, dance productions, and anthropological films. This room is also designed for piano performance, practice, and composition. The renovated recital hall was outfitted with amenities to encourage freedom of mobility for a range of audiences.  

The team also designed more attractive finishes for the gracious reading room and converted an underutilized portion of the library into a Listening Classroom with audio-visual capabilities suitable for multiple disciplines. Custom-designed classroom furniture permits keyboards and headphones at every seat for either lectures or seminar-style discussions. In addition, the seating configurations and locations of projection screens and whiteboards provide the best possible viewing angles for both professor and students. Incorporating A/V capabilities, such as 360-degree high-definition sound, screen capture technology, sound manipulation tools, and high-definition video projection, resolved numerous challenges and acoustically isolated the classroom from the adjacent library and practice rooms. These systems are integrated with wood paneling, high quality lighting, and acoustically absorptive surfaces to create a hands-on learning environment unique to the Vassar campus. 

Landscape  completed in association with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

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Size: 1,250 sf
Budget: $750,000


Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation

Belle Skinner Hall of Music Library & Listening Classroom

Vassar College | Poughkeepsie, New York

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