The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will break ground in October 2023 on a 50,000 square-foot expansion project, allowing the Museum to better serve its next 14 million visitors from across the country and around the world. Designed by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), the expansion will integrate the iconic original building designed by I.M. Pei with the urban Cleveland lakefront, while increasing the size of the Museum by one third.

With $135 million raised towards the capital campaign, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will begin construction this Fall.  

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame addition, designed by PAU under the leadership of Vishaan Chakrabarti, takes cues from the visual language of Pei’s original 1995 signature glass pyramid while preserving its distinct identity as a Cleveland landmark and activating the surrounding streetscape and lakefront. The expansion will feature a new entry lobby and publicly accessible space; exhibition spaces, offices, state-of-the-art education center and a 6,000+-square-foot multipurpose venue. 

“The renowned architecture of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is symbolic of the innovation and creativity of generations of music icons,” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum President & CEO, Greg Harris, said. “30 years after we broke ground on the original structure we embark on this next chapter in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s legacy, including expanding the museum’s world-class education and exhibition offerings.”  

PAU’s design reinterprets Pei’s organization of solid shapes “dancing” around a central transparent pyramid. A triangular-shaped building interlocks with and extends outward from the original glass structure. Specific programmatic elements are articulated as solid shapes asymmetrically arranged under a tilted triangular roof. Clad in black steel and specular granite, the façade evokes Cleveland’s industrial past while representing a contemporary counterpoint to Pei’s design. 

“This transformation will expand the Rock Hall’s iconic structure to meet the demands of its evolving mandate: to showcase the past, present and future of rock & roll as the defining sound of each generation’s youth,” Chakrabarti, Founder and Creative Director of PAU, said. “Our design welcomes visitors by pulling the forces of the City, the Lake, and Pei’s Pyramid together into a new triangular composition that centers on a dynamic, aural, and inclusive public interior that flows from the streets to the waterfront—a destination that declares this must be the place.”   

The addition sets a new tone for the visitor experience while responding functionally, operationally, and aesthetically to the existing pyramid. Where the two structures converge, a large publicly accessible interior atrium welcomes visitors, drawing in passersby with circulation pathways that connect the street to an exterior lake promenade.

In addition to functioning as an urban pedestrian link, the new venue and exhibition spaces provide greatly increased flexibility to allow for larger exhibitions and events. By weaving indoor and outdoor public and programmatic spaces, PAU’s design transforms the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame into both a lively new cultural destination as well as a civic gathering space seamlessly integrated with the city.  

Author