SHoP was selected as a finalist in the 2020 competition to expand the historic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

In music, authenticity isn’t something you see. It’s something you feel. The same is true in architecture. The free flow of a space or the logic of a structural system—what architects refer to as the “honesty” of a design—play an important role in separating an authentic building from one that is only posing. For this competition to expand the exhibition capacity of I.M. Pei’s iconic Rock Hall, dramatically upgrade its back of house and office resources and propose a total transformation of the visitor experience, the client’s concerns remained centered around several aspects of authenticity—to the historic structure, to the industrial legacy of the Cleveland lakefront and to the look, feel and undying spirit of rock culture and the music that continues to inspire it.

Our design significantly increased the museum’s ability to make use of its major plaza, extending its capacity by introducing stadium seating into the roofscape of the expansion. The video fly-through continues into the interior, showcasing a host of new programmatic attractions—from vintage guitar repair to visiting tattoo artists to a honky-tonk-lined back alley inspired by quintessential rock spaces from Liverpool to The Bowery.

Our approach to the interior experience was shaped by research into rock’s most influential and authentic venues, hangouts and neighborhoods, including First Avenue, the alleys of Nashville and Cleveland’s own Blossom Music Center.