The new performance hall at Utah State University brings world-class architecture and acoustics to a quiet college town in rural northern Utah. Evoking the peaks of the surrounding mountain range, the building’s design features sculpted forms.
In designing the hall, Sasaki Associates played with geometries of both acoustical and contextual significance. An orthogonal concrete shell with 18-inch thick concrete walls encloses the main performance space. The architect determined its height, shape, and materials for optimum sound qualities. Its origami-like folded volumes, clad in zinc panels, suggest a melding of the man-made and the natural—a precise architectural geometry that recalls the tectonic forces that formed the surrounding Bear River Mountains. Triangular skylights direct light into interior spaces. At night, the pavilion faces an outdoor piazza and dramatic lighting splays a pattern suggestive of musical notes.
Collaborating with Artec Consultants, Sasaki designed the octagonal main concert space to function as a “second universe” cut off from outside sound while offering a wide array of adjustability depending on the type of musical performance and the number of occupied seats at any given time. Multiple layers of drywall and a final veneer of warm colored beech wood wrap the interior walls in a complimentary gesture to the thick concrete. All mechanical systems are suspended on pads or springs to avoid the slightest vibration or extraneous sound.
To lend a sense of procession and ritual consistent with the university’s strong commitment to arts education, Sasaki’s landscape architecture group laid out a forecourt containing a row of native trees and a series of pea stone fields that lead from the main campus into the new piazza. The performance hall forms the cornerstone of an envisioned school of arts campus for the eastern portion of Utah State University, bolstering the school’s reputation as a leading arts institution in the Intermountain West. The master plan for future construction, which Sasaki prepared, calls for a new black box theater, theater workshop building, and an administrative building.1090 East 675 North logan utah