Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

With a design that embodies the music celebrated within, the building is an icon of the city that coined the term “rock and roll.”

Simple geometric forms are juxtaposed to combine diverse functions within a unified whole: a theater cantilevered over Lake Erie on one side balances a circular performance drum on the other, while a 165-foot-high orthogonal tower rises from the water to engage a tetrahedral glass tent. Like an explosive musical chord, the sculptural components reverberate out from the center.

Set back in a 1.2-acre performance plaza on the roof of the main exhibition space, the building rises with eight unique floor plates of decreasing size, culminating in the Hall of Fame, a contemplative fiber optics chamber. The site’s change of grade was maximized to tuck the bulk of the museum underground and create a controlled environment for interactive installations.

Show Facts

4 acres, in North Coast Harbor Lake Erie


143,000 ft2 / 13,000 m2 gross area; exhibition space, including circular drum, cantilevered auditorium and Hall of Fame; disc jockey booth; offices; museum shop; cafe; outdoor cafe terrace; public plaza


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation Incorporated, Cleveland, Ohio

PCF&P Services

Programming, site planning, architecture, exterior envelope, interior design of public spaces

lead designer

I. M. Pei


Award for Innovative Design and Excellence in Architecture Using Structural Steel
American Institute of Architects / American Institute of Steel Construction, 1997

Engineering Excellence Award
New York Association of Consulting Engineers, 1998

Lobby level plan

Visitors to the building are not merely spectators but essential participants, animating it with color and movement as they circulate on open balconies, bridges, stairs, and escalators crisscrossed up and down.
The Hall of Fame creates a civic identity that reaches out to the public and anchors Cleveland’s developing waterfront as a nationally significant center of entertainment, education, and culture.
Project Credits

Associate Architect: Robert P. Madison International, Inc., Cleveland, OH; Mechanical / Electrical: Altieri Sebor Wieber Consulting Engineers, Norwalk, CT; Lighting: Fisher Marantz Renfro Stone, New York; Exhibit Design: The Burdick Group, Inc., San Francisco; Images: Timothy Hursley, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners