On the ground floor of UF’s Music Building, above locker No. 338 and in the top row of gallon-sized cubbies, sits a bird’s nest. Shaded by a small yellow door, this locker provides refuge for its avian occupants from the summer’s heat.
Ironically, the students sharing the facility fail to find the same luxury as the building’s air conditioner struggles to regulate temperature.
UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said current funding allows for regular maintenance and repair of the university’s heating and air units. However, it does not cover replacements for aging equipment.
Lovingly referred to as “the MUB,” the Music Building contains 177 rooms, according to Orlando. The building includes practice rooms, rehearsal rooms, administrative offices and an advising center. It has an open-air design, meaning its walls do not connect with the ceiling.
Orlando said the air-conditioning equipment for the MUB is the same age as the building — 47 years old.
Derek Nirenberg, a UF music education senior, plays alto and baritone saxophone. He has used the building to rehearse for three years now.
Until a year and a half ago, the facility lacked a roof, Nirenberg said.
Instead of the two-by-fours and concrete that currently cover the Music Building’s central strip of picnic tables, there was only open sky and a “jungle” patch of weeds below. The design is the main flaw in cooling the building.
“Specifically this summer, we’ve had some trouble with the air-conditioning units themselves because it’s hard to air-condition a building that is the outside,” Nirenberg said.
As a result of poor temperature control, the building becomes excessively hot and humid in the summer and too cold in the winter, Nirenberg added.
During the summer and winter, the building is kept at 74 and 70 degrees respectively, plus or minus two degrees, Orlando said. A motor in the MUB’s heating and air unit was replaced this Summer semester.
A study conducted by Brian Wuttke of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music found that, as temperatures increased from 70 to 80 degrees, woodwind and brass instruments’ pitches became sharp by 4.3 to 13.0 musical intervals, measured in cents, while percussion instruments’ pitches became flat by 3.0 to 6.0 cents.
Practice rooms inside the MUB are air conditioned, but the outside halls are not. As a result, instruments may experience these dramatic temperature changes and fall out of tune even when stored appropriate casing.
This poses a large problem not only to students but to their instruments, Nirenberg said. Woodwind instruments, such as clarinets, are particularly susceptible to temperature changes.
“If a clarinet (was) to get too cold, it would just crack because it’s made out of wood,” Nirenberg said.
Zachary Zaroogian, a freshman violist, said band students use the Music Building not just to practice but also to store their instruments.
Zaroogian said he hasn’t had any significant thermal issues yet, but he also hasn’t experienced every room since starting in Summer B.
However, Zaroogian said if the MUB lockers get too hot, “you could possibly have the glue melt on (a) viola, and I’ve had friends (whose) instruments have separated and blown up.”
Heat damage can range in cost, he added, “from barely anything to, ‘You’re gonna have to buy a new instrument.’”
Kevin Orr, director of the UF School of Music, said the MUB’s climate is a nuisance for faculty members, too. Orr, who frequents the MUB daily, described the climate as “very sporadic.”
“Humidity is a serious issue in the Music Building, as it affects the operability of the instruments and comfort and health of faculty, staff and students who are in the building regularly,” he said.
Orr explained music faculty work frequently with maintenance to improve heating and air function, but maintenance funding would need to increase to update the MUB’s unit.
“The best solution,” Orr said of fixing climate in the MUB, “is reconstruction of the building from the ground up.”
UF is doing just that. A $55 million music building is being planned to occupy the current location of Leonardo’s By the Slice on the corner of Northwest 13th Street and West University Avenue.
Current students will still have to use the MUB until the new building is rumored to be completed in four years, Niremberg said. Then, future Gator musicians can be as comfortable as the birds above locker 338.