With approximately 54,000-square feet of teaching, practice, performance, and administrative space, Skidmore’s new Arthur Zankel Music Center has become the new hub of musical activity on campus. Designed by EwingCole and BelsonDesignArchitects and drawing upon the expertise of acousticians, theater designers, and landscape architects, the Center reflects Skidmore’s commitment to the arts and to creative thinking.
Aligned along a north-south axis, the building is divided into two separate spheres of activity, with a wide, brightly lit glass atrium in the center, serving as a crossroads and a gathering space. To the south is the performance sphere, featuring the 600-seat Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall, an acoustically tuned space that can be scaled up or down in size for smaller and larger audiences. Designed to accommodate both a full orchestra and chorus, its stage is backed by a dramatic three-story-high glass wall overlooking nearby Haupt Pond.
To the north is the instructional sphere, which includes faculty offices, 14 practice rooms, the 90-seat Elisabeth Luce Moore Hall for lectures and recitals, electronic music laboratory, piano lab, and several classrooms. The expectation is that this wing will be used virtually around the clock to accommodate the practice schedule and creative needs of students during evening and night hours, and teaching needs during the day.
Located on the main drive near the front entrance of the College, the Zankel Center serves as a gateway building for the campus. Its traditional brick, copper, and glass facade harkens back to the style of the initial campus buildings, while its bold structure works in tandem with the similarly powerful shape of the nearby Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. Together with the Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theater, the Marjorie Saisselin Art Building, and the original Therese W. Filene Music Building, it creates a true arts quadrangle.
The building has been sited and to take full advantage of the landscape and to embrace the principles of sustainable architecture. Several large glass-walled classrooms enable viewers outside to see the hum of activity within. The effect will be particularly striking during the evening when these lighted spaces will serve as a welcoming beacon to students and visitors alike, drawing them into the life of the campus. The narrow building plan provides daylight in virtually all spaces, including the concert hall, which will be used daily for rehearsals and teaching as well as for performances.
The design incorporates new advances in environmentally sensitive architecture drawn from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. The most important of these features is the geothermal heating and cooling system. The Zankel Music Center is the third Skidmore project in as many years to use closed-loop geothermal wells for the building's heating and cooling needs. In addition to reducing energy costs approximately 40 percent, this technique substantially reduces carbon emissions.
“The new Zankel Music Center is a stunning, state-of-the-art facility that will enhance Skidmore’s acclaimed music program and richly complement the cultural environment of Saratoga and the entire Capital Region. It’s truly an achievement we should all celebrate.”
Marcia J. White,
President and Executive Director, Saratoga Performing Arts Center