Building and Site Merge in Sweet Harmony

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Building and Site Merge in Sweet Harmony

The site design of the new East Studio for the acclaimed Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington responds to the need for the project to integrate easily with the fabric of the campus while providing a fresh contemporary aesthetic. Our design weaves together project-specific program needs with creative site solutions, taking great care to enable further developments to fit into the current framework and allow the landscape to grow into a quad and an arts gateway.

Browning Day is the architect of record for the new four-story facility that includes faculty teaching studios, music practice rooms, classrooms and rehearsal rooms. Landscape architecture responsibilities included leadership on a full master plan involving the complete site and landscape design for the 5.25-acre site with a 20-foot grade change.

A corner plaza serves both as a campus space and an arts district gateway. The design carved space for a future carillon to further enhance and establish the art district gateway experience. A west patio space provided at the building proper, as well as other areas, can be used for new student orientation. On the south end, a terraced landscape area exposes the lower level studios to daylight and provides great “subterranean” views. The design provides a roundabout with barrier-free access for drop-off and easy access to the building for students transporting large instruments for a private lesson. The north entry is graced with a circular passive garden and lawn area featuring a large variety of outdoor recreational spaces. Whether sunny or shady, hard plazas or soft garden spaces, students can choose the area that best suits their mood to relax.

Care was taken to embrace existing campus structures and merge the design with its surrounding. To that end, the campus walk connections align with features on the opposite side of Jordan Avenue, located on the west side of the site. The landscape architect’s vision is that a new quad will be formed based on the current site design, as further master planned facilities are developed.

Through the use of limestone fieldrock retaining walls and terraced landscape, the 20 feet of grade change from one end to the other provides accessibility throughout the site and daylight into and views out of faculty studios in the lower level of the building. This landscape also functions as a “viewing garden” from the building and is very dynamic from the lower level. A glass guardrail from a level at grade promotes transparent views into the lower planter terraces. Fieldrock of various dimension and finishes are used, from smooth panels to rusticated copings and chunky limestone blocks, to respond to the challenge of creating contrast and visual interest.

Many of the large gestures of the site design preserve multiple large, significant and valued existing trees and also influence forms of the building’s architecture. All these design features allow the site’s geometry to be visually interesting from upper levels of the building.

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