This storied campus landmark, a former Carnegie Library, was renewed through a $15 million renovation project that transformed the auditorium into a first-rate music recital hall and restored the distinguishing rotunda and lobby.

Now home to UNC’s Music Department, Hill Hall was originally built in 1907 as the main campus library. The 455-seat auditorium now serves as UNC’s main recital venue with a professional stage and enhanced backstage areas, and renovated classrooms support music instruction and rehearsal. 


  • Renovation of music education building and performance hall
  • Rehabilitation of original architectural features
  • 455-seat auditorium
  • Originally built in 1907

A Center of Campus Culture

The modernization enhances the historic heart of the music department at UNC Chapel Hill and supports cultural life on campus. The newly named James and Susan Moeser Auditorium is not only home to the Music Department and its faculty, but also a regular venue for Carolina Performing Arts. The state-of-the-art hall provides a grand backdrop for a variety of classes, lectures, pre-professional training, assemblies, and recitals by the music program as well as professional performances. 

Renewing the Rotunda

The light-filled rotunda serves as the main entry to the building and lobby for the auditorium. This hub is a defining feature of the historic structure. The rotunda itself was expanded and architectural details and finishes were renewed and enhanced to create a stately setting that can be used for receptions as well as small performances. Surrounding the rotunda are classrooms, offices and other spaces that serve the department of music. These high-quality environments are suitable for musical teaching, rehearsal, and performances by the more than 400 students currently enrolled in the department. 

“At long last, Hill Hall is a space as glorious as the music that has happened here for more than three-quarters of a century.”

    - Kevin Guskiewicz 
    Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences 

Fine Tuning the Hall

First and foremost, Hill’s auditorium is a place for performance. However, the space suffered from acoustic difficulties including excessive reverberation and flutter - making it less than ideal for most live performances. A primary goal was to correct these deficiencies through the renovation project. Several innovative sound-correcting solutions are integrated into the decorative ornamentation and architectural fabric of the auditorium. Solutions such as plaster-filled acoustic diffusion panels, strategic deployment of acoustic absorptive material, new angled interior storm windows, and operable acoustic banners contribute to a greater clarity in the sound quality of the space.  

“…the sound in the hall was carefully designed to allow tuning of the hall, which optimizes the clarity of speech and performance….Having a fully functional space allows us to create in a space that now reflects the beauty of the creative endeavors taking place within its walls.”

    Dr. Louise Toppin 
    Chair, Department of Music 
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill