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The Curtis Institute of Music’s Lenfest Hall Opens
Publication Date
August 25th 2011

On September 6, 2011, Curtis Institute of Music plans to open its $65 million Lenfest Hall, an environmentally sensitive, state-of-the-art music education and student residence building, fine-tuned to help prepare its exceptionally gifted musicians for professional careers in the 21st century.


Marvin Waxman Consulting Engineers (MWCE), a division of Urban Engineers, Inc., was selected by the Curtis Institute to provide specialty mechanical and electrical design to help achieve the Institute’s vision of bringing its priceless musical traditions into the digital age. Working with architects, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA), and the architectural acoustics firm, Kirkegaard Associates, MWCE’s innovative building systems design addressed the historic preservation, security, spatial and acoustical requirements of the new facility.


The nine-story, 107,000-square-foot building now features 32 sound proof rehearsal and teaching rooms, chamber music rehearsal rooms, practice rooms available for use 24/7, a 3,200-square-foot rehearsal hall for the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and dining and housing facilities for students, all of which MWCE designed to be energy efficient, acoustically sensitive and secure. In addition, MWCE provided engineering consulting support for state-of-the-art technology incorporated into the design, including full-building Wi-Fi, Internet2, video and audio recording studios, recording capability in all teaching studios, and a cutting-edge security system, which maintains an active roster of every individual in the building.


Sustainable practices in building construction and operation were a priority for the owner, architect and the engineers. Urban’s Director of Building Systems, Jim Bilella, PE, Project Manager, stated, “The original design goal was to target LEED Certification, but as the project progressed we recognized the opportunity to achieve a higher rating.” Significant energy savings were achieved by using energy efficient fan coils, variable air volume (VAV) air handling units and an energy recovery ventilation unit used to recover heat and moisture from exhausted air. The VAV system is unique because of the ability to track the location of occupants using sensors and then adjust to provide additional outdoor air to areas with high occupancy. In addition, a green roof stormwater retention system and low-flow water fixtures and showers help reduce the building’s overall water use by over 40%. Thanks to these features, Lenfest Hall is now on target to achieve LEED Gold Certification.


“Designing a building, like Lenfest Hall, which exceeds almost every expectation in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability without sacrificing the impressive interior environment, was no easy task…but it is something that Urban strives for with every project,” said Bilella.


For more information on Urban’s Building Systems, click here.

For more information on Urban’s Sustainability Services, please click here.