A Hidden Musical Gem in the Architecture Building

October 10, 2023


How do people react when music is played in public places at Carleton University? Maximilien Sonier, a History & Theory of Architecture 2023 graduate, decided to find out by playing three pianos on campus, one of which was the piano in the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism building. Sonier documented his findings in a podcast last semester as a final class project.


“I believe that pianos in public locations, played or not, have the power to affect mood and completely transform the dynamics of that space,” Sonier said in his podcast titled Music and Public Places.


He played the pianos located in the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism building, the Nideyinàn (formerly the University Centre), and the Minto Building. The piano in the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism building posed the greatest challenge for Sonier to find.

Max sitting at a wooden piano
Maximilien Sonier playing the piano at the Azrieli School of Architecture

For those entering the building from the main entrance, the piano sits tucked away to the left, behind a half wall separating it from the stairs leading down to The Pit. While Sonier played music by Chopin and Joe Hisaishi at the piano, fellow student Jeremie Lafleche watched for audience reactions.


“For the small number of people who walked through this space (in the Architecture Building) while I was playing, they demonstrated a sudden engagement with the piano that I didn’t notice in the University building,” Sonier observed.


 “After finishing a piece, a man who was walking up the stairs clapped and complimented me, which tells me that the architecture students there must have a student appreciation for their piano and those who play it. I think that in itself is a good indication of the piano’s relationship with the public space.”


Listen as Sonier guides you through these three spaces by ear rather than by the eye. The 33-minute podcast can be found here: https://carleton.ca/aah/2023/the-hta-podcast-music-and-public-places/

Brown piano
Brown Piano and stool