Oberlin Conservatory is a complex of four contiguous buildings: Bibbins Hall, the Central Unit, Robertson Hall, and the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building.
The Oberlin Conservatory complex of today traces its roots to the early 1960s. Its signature structure and main classroom building, Bibbins Hall, was designed by noted architect Minoru Yamasaki, who later mimicked its appearance in his best-known creation, the former World Trade Center in New York City.
Constructed in 1963, Bibbins Hall was the first of three contiguous buildings, all designed by Yamasaki, that form the heart of the conservatory. It was followed in 1964 by the Central Unit, with its large-ensemble rehearsal rooms, Warner Concert Hall, and conservatory library; and Robertson Hall, which boasts 150 practice rooms with windows.
The sleek and modernistic Bertram and Judith Kohl Building opened in 2010. The building houses jazz studies, composition, musicology, and music theory. Earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold designation from the U.S. Green Building Council, the Kohl Building is a cornerstone of Oberlin’s commitment to environmentally sustainable building practices.
In 2016, the conservatory opened the William and Helen Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space, a club-like, subterranean venue at the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center that is dedicated to interdisciplinary classroom experiences by day and conservatory performances by night. The space occupies the lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin. The Birenbaum and the Gateway Center share LEED Platinum status.
A first stop for many prospective conservatory students is the Conservatory Annex, which sits adjacent to Bibbins Hall on College Street. It houses the conservatory’s admissions and communications offices, in addition to other meeting spaces and administrative offices. Performance spaces used by the conservatory are situated throughout campus and include Finney Chapel, Fairchild Chapel, and Cat in the Cream coffeehouse.
Created in 1963, Bibbins Hall was designed by noted architect Minoru Yamasaki, who later mimicked the look of Bibbins in his best-known creation, the former World Trade Center in New York City.
Inside are faculty studios, classrooms, and David H. Stull Recital Hall. Private instruction, ensemble coaching, and classroom instruction take place in this building. Bibbins also houses the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory, a distance learning room, the Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA) complex, and the piano technology shop.
This hub within the main complex houses Kulas Recital Hall and Warner Concert Hall, the conservatory library, the student lounge, student instrument lockers, and large rehearsal rooms.
Oberlin’s main practice building boasts 150 practice rooms—all with windows and most with Steinway pianos—as well as reed-making rooms, the Kulas Organ Center, the Schoepfle Vocal Arts Center, dedicated large-instrument rooms, and the conservatory’s Office of Professional Development.
Kohl houses the conservatory’s exemplary jazz studies division and programs in composition, musicology, and music theory. The building features Clonick Hall, a superior recording studio, and the largest privately held jazz recording collection in the United States.
The building also honors Wendell Logan, professor of African American music and founder and chair of the jazz studies program, who died in 2010.
The Conservatory Annex houses the admissions and communications offices, in addition to other meeting spaces and administrative offices.
Built in 2016, this club-like venue in the lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin accommodates more than 100 guests. By day the Birenbaum serves as a teaching space; by night it features conservatory performances and special events.