Icicle Creek Center for the Arts

Icicle Canyon, WA


The Music of the Spheres

Icicle Creek Center for the Arts offers musicians, performers and artists an opportunity to escape the hustle of urban life and become immersed in the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty. Located in the Cascade Mountains, Icicle Creek Music Center serves residency programs, chamber music performances, festivals, symphony camps, and classes.

The mountain sanctuary in Leavenworth, Washington was originally founded in 1995 by local entrepreneur and art enthusiast, Harriet Bullitt, as part of the Sleeping Lady Resort. Bullitt wanted to create a place that celebrates the synergy between the arts and the environment.

In 2011, Bullitt received funding for a redevelopment project to broaden Icicle Creek’s range of education and performance offerings. The redevelopment plan included a series of 19 buildings, including a master recital hall, group rehearsal, group lodges, individual rehearsal studios, and administrative offices. A combination of careful site planning and strategic building orientation resulted in a collection of buildings inspired by regional rock formations and historic agrarian farmhouses. The buildings are nestled into the hillside facing the Cascades so views to the landscape connect musicians and visitors alike to the natural world.

Canyon Wren Recital Hall, the primary gathering space for performances, focuses the view on the Sleeping Lady ridgeline through a unique wall of glass, indicating that there is a story embedded in the space. The design team drew parallels from Pythagoras’ theories of music, including music keys and the ‘Music of the Spheres’, which described a music emitted by the planets of our solar system. By embedding numerology, color, and light into the design approach, the Master Recital Hall became a narrator of music structure and theory.

Stained glass, salvaged by Harriet Bullitt from a CCC camp on the site was installed in prominent positions throughout the building, indicating relationships between the major (even number / masculine) key, and minor (odd number / feminine) key, with colors representing Pythagoras’ ‘Seven Spheres of Babylon’. The colors of the glass represent each planet—yellow is Saturn, blue is Earth, red is Mars, and so on—which reflect a stunning array of light into the Recital Hall and make the walls come to life at different times of the day.

With framed views of stone outcroppings and ridge lines, sunsets, and tall Ponderosa Pines, the buildings create an aperture to the landscape that provides an inspiring experience to visitors and resident artists alike.

Jones and Jones: Architect of record