Swarthmore College’s Lang Music Building (built in 1973) received a $9M renovation in 2021, including a transformation of Presser Rehearsal Room and upgrades to the mechanical system serving the 450-seat Concert Hall.
Prior to the renovation, Presser had been an underused stepped lecture hall, with fixed concrete risers and unsatisfactory acoustical conditions for music rehearsals, lessons, and sectionals. Faculty had issues with the ‘awkward’ and ‘muddy’ sound of the space, as well as the lack of sound isolation to other parts of the building. Acentech collaborated with JacobsWyper Architects to transform the room into a flexible new home for Swarthmore’s music department.
New sound-isolating wall, floor, and ceiling systems allow for unrestricted use of the room for rehearsal, performance, and recording. Custom-designed wood panels on the ceiling and upper walls diffuse sound to provide clear and supportive conditions throughout. Drapery at the lower walls can be extended to control loudness or retracted into pockets to enhance reverberation. These features allow the space to serve the wide variety of music at Swarthmore, including the traditional Chinese music ensemble, Gamelan ensemble (traditional Indonesian percussion instruments), choral groups, solo instrumental and voice performance.
“We successfully held simultaneous events in the Concert Hall and in Presser yesterday. The Music Department recorded senior recitals in the hall at the same time that the Gamelan group rehearsed. There was no sound bleed-through between Presser and the Concert Hall, which had been a big concern. Many thanks!”
– Thomas Whitman, Professor, Department of Music and Dance Swarthmore College