Florida’s next symphony

The Orlando Music Institute intends to bring world-class music education to the youth of Central Florida

Classical music, a rich part of a great city’s cultural traditions, depends on homegrown talent developed under the guidance of master instructors. In order to blossom, promising young music students must be guided by an institution where their musical aptitude can be nurtured. The Orlando Musical Institute will fulfill this role for a private, classical enrichment program in central Florida. The Orlando office of VOA Associates, Inc. is designing a facility to bring young talent and master musicians together.

The nonprofit Orlando Music Institute Foundation (orlandomusicinstitute.com/foundation) is raising funds for the construction of a 43,000 square foot, one-of-a-kind music school facility for children and youth ages 5-17 with hopes to break ground in 2017. VOA’s design concept promotes the project through the development and fund-raising stage. The Orlando Music Institute will include recital halls, practice and lesson rooms, a recording studio, digital music archives, temporary living quarters, courtyards and a rooftop patio. The Foundation’s desire for timeless, elegant and traditional architecture will reflect the enduring values of classical music. “This project brings our strong portfolio of classical performance spaces to Central Florida with a design that will lift our region’s educational facilities,” says Jonathan Douglas, AIA, VOA’s Orlando Managing Director.

Orlando’s educational climate has long focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), exemplified by University of Central Florida, its Research Park, and Lake Nona, a hub for medical and defense research. The arts have been quick to react, adding an A to this acronym making it STEAM, and the Orlando Music Institute is integral to this enhancement.

At the new institute, which currently operates in three rented facilities, children will receive professional training from highly qualified professional artists and teachers. The foundation hopes to offer scholarships to at least 50 students annually. The Orlando Music Institute facility will be used to prepare children and youth for college or conservatory level training. It will also make possible significant performance opportunities at an early age, mentor youth for careers as musicians, host visiting professional musicians and students and function as a community center/hub for classical music.

The design process included site visits to several preparatory schools throughout Central Florida,
as well as the Atlantic Center for the Arts, to benchmark architecture, design, program and facility styles. Relevant VOA-designed performance spaces were also reviewed.

The Foundation expressed a strong desire for a school that evokes “old Europe” in its classical tradition. A rusticated stone base and fully arched windows provide the feel of a European academy. The domed front entry hall creates a grand sense of arrival leading to the main recital hall, with courtyards of varying sizes for outdoor concerts. Rich coral-ochre brick evokes Florida’s limestone. The front elevation’s grand entry portico is carefully proportioned. A fine art panel over the doors and the institute’s name carved in stone brings a sense of timelessness to the structure. The imposing scale of the entry hall inspires a sense of awe and respect for music tradition.

While classical architecture shapes its forms, space is also created for informal interaction. An outdoor
deck adjacent to the dining hall can host rooftop concerts, where students and faculty can form mentor-protégé bonds.

“The Orlando Music Institute Foundation would like to express its deepest gratitude to VOA for helping
us cast vision and design for a one-of-a-kind music school for children in Central Florida,” said James Zimbardi, Founder of the Orlando Music Institute Foundation.

This inspiring setting for music education and appreciation is designed to excite and interest the next generation in classical music. This inspiring facility will enable the Orlando Music Institute to provide the highest level of music education in Central Florida and lay the foundation for a richer culture in generations to come.

Size: 43,000 square feet
Team: Jonathan Douglas, Richard Reep, Stephanie K. Moss and Rob Terry

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