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Visiting professor chosen to design Rockport concert hall

MIT alumna Deborah Epstein and Alan Joslin, an MIT graduate and visiting faculty member, have been selected to design a new concert hall in Rockport, Mass.
MIT alumna Deborah Epstein and Alan Joslin, an MIT graduate and visiting faculty member, have been selected to design a new concert hall in Rockport, Mass.
Photo courtesy / Epstein Joslin Architects

MIT architect Alan Joslin, an MIT graduate and visiting faculty member, has been selected to design a new concert hall for the Rockport (Mass.) Chamber Music Festival.

Joslin (M.Arch 1981) has designed performance spaces for music and dance at Tanglewood and Williams College, among other sites. His schematic drawing of Rockport's new concert hall was selected out of a field of 27 competitors.

In Joslin's design, the music festival's new concert space will utilize and also break through the fa̤ade of the 19th-century Haskins Building in the heart of the historic seaport, opening up the area to both the waterfront in front and Rockport's commercial sector to the rear. Deborah Epstein (M.Arch 1983), Joslin's partner in the firm of Epstein Joslin Architects, will design the interior, along with renowned acoustician Larry Kierkegaard.

The chamber music festival has been squeezed for space at its current location, the Rockport Art Association on Main Street, as its concerts have attracted larger audiences. When Joslin's renovations are finished in 2008, Rockport will have one of the finest chamber music performance facilities in the country, as well as space for civic and school productions.

"With the renovated Haskins Building we will have the opportunity to provide our performers the performance facility they fully deserve," said David Deveau, the artistic director of the festival and a senior lecturer in music at MIT.

Joslin has designed more than a dozen innovative and acoustically inspiring music venues. He was project manager in the firm of William Rawn Associates for the design and construction of Seiji Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Festival in Lenox, Mass. That building received numerous awards, including the 2000 Honor Award in Interior Architecture from the American Institute of Architects, and it is widely regarded for its outstanding acoustics. Other projects for which Joslin acted as design principal are the new Williams College Theater and Dance Center, the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Md., and the Lake Mataoka Amphitheater at William and Mary College in Virginia.

Joslin and Epstein share ties to MIT; they are husband and wife as well as partners, and Joslin continues to maintain close ties with the institution through collaborations and teaching.

"I love MIT because of the talent of the people I find there and with whom I can collaborate," he wrote in an e-mail. "All self-motivated, intelligent, modest, enthusiastic, diligent and just good-natured and spirited folk."

In the fall of 2005, he taught an architectural design course called "Roots and Wings" at the Institute. Its focus, like that of the Rockport project, was on architecture that responds to the essential elements of earth, water and sky, taking careful consideration of the natural and social reality of the setting. "The 'kids' inspire me," he wrote. "They ask tough questions, they make bold propositions, they surprise me with solutions that are not intuitively obvious precisely because they are not weighed down with experiences that tell them otherwise."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 26, 2006 (download PDF).

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