2008 – MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis

Architect: James Dayton



The MacPhail Center for Music is a nonprofit music school in a recently opened building in the Mills District of Downtown East, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The school has over 7,750 students, providing instruction at 48 locations outside of its downtown Minneapolis facility on more than 35 instruments and in a variety of musical styles.

The building consists of several volumes, with different cladding materials – the most striking of which is a rustred Cor-ten Steel. The new building combines modern design with materials that show their age, in a tribute to both the history of the area and the institution. Architect James Dayton says the goal was to put music front and center. “We always said through the design process that we wanted the UPS guy to come in here and experience music from the minute he came through the front door,” says Dayton.

The centerpiece of the building is performance hall that can be reconfigured for recitals, concerts, classes and other events. It’s something the old MacPhail lacked, and provides the school with the opportunity to not only show off its own musicians, but invite in others.

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