Plans for New School of Music Building Revealed

Interim Dean Pat Okker

College of Arts and Science Interim Dean Pat Okker talks about the need for a new School of Music building during the reveal of the design renderings at Whitmore Recital Hall March 21.

Jordan Yount
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science

MU faculty, staff, and patrons of the arts got a first glimpse of the designs for the new School of Music building, to be located at the intersection of Hitt Street and University Avenue. The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved Phase One of the building project last December. The first phase encompasses most of the needed academic and rehearsal spaces, learning labs, a recording suite, faculty and administrative spaces, a traditional recital hall, and a showcase outdoor performance venue.

College of Arts and Science Interim Dean Pat Okker says some may question the timing of a new building in light of state budget cuts and potential layoffs, but she notes the project has been a priority of the college for more than two decades. Okker says sustaining excellence requires an excellent built environment.

“I cannot separate the environment in which people work from the work they actually do,” she told the crowd gathered at the Whitmore Recital Hall Tuesday afternoon. “Musicians need concert halls. Artists need studios. Scientists need laboratories. Scholars need libraries and archives. We can’t buy into this notion that it’s one or the other.”

Kansas City-based architectural firm BNIM presented preliminary design renderings for the new building during Tuesday’s reveal, and Kirkegaard Associates of St. Louis discussed the acoustics of the new facility. Brian Corry of Kirkegaard says the acoustics of the new building will be a significant improvement over what is currently available for singers and musicians. Right now, the School of Music is spread across six buildings on campus in spaces that were not designed for musical practice or performance. The new project will house everything under one roof and will nearly double the amount of space currently available.

School of Music Director Julia Gaines

A total of $24 million has been committed to Phase One of the project, which includes a $10-million gift from Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield of Westphalia, Missouri. The School of Music is working to secure $20 million in additional private support that could enable both phases of construction to move forward simultaneously. Phase Two will include additional academic spaces, a contemporary recital hall, and a unique 500-seat concert hall.

Site preparation will begin this summer, with construction getting underway in January 2018. The new School of Music building is expected to open in August 2019.

If you would like to support the School of Music building project, please contact Kristen Thayer at (573) 882-4421 or

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