The DiMenna Center for Classical Music transformed the lower half of a concrete off-Broadway theater building into New York City's first rehearsal and recording facility designed specifically for classical music, and the first permanent home for the Orchestra of St. Luke's.
In designing the 20,000-sq-ft center, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture worked with the volumes of two defunct theaters in the building to create one large rehearsal room and one chamber rehearsal room, removing the concrete balcony in the larger space. Smaller rehearsal rooms are nestled in the remaining space between the main rooms, using existing floor slabs as much as possible.
Maximum reuse of the existing concrete structure helped keep the budget down, as well as create the unique shapes of the two main halls, the team says.
The design and construction of the rehearsal and recording spaces eliminate outside noise and deliver superior room acoustics.
“The acoustics requirements had two major challenges,” says Hugh Hardy, founding partner of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. “You have to create in a severely reduced volume the same sort of experience for the musicians that they would have in a major concert hall, and no two concert halls have the same acoustics.”
The team, therefore, had to establish a standard, keeping the rooms as quiet as possible. The walls of the main hall, which is large enough to accommodate a full symphony orchestra with chorus, have three layers. They feature a series of red oak wood slats with rounded edges and varying, acoustically calibrated spacing between each slat. Behind the wood slats are acoustical shelf, masonry units, metal studs, a system of adjustable acoustical draperies on tracks, and two types of paint—one that reflects sound and one that does not.
“It's very technically demanding to make all that stuff fit and make it quiet,” says Geoff Lynch, a partner with H3 Hardy.
Lynch says that since the center's completion in March 2011, 150 organizations worldwide have called about using the facilities.
DiMenna Center for Classical Music
Developer/Owner: Orchestera of St. Luke’s, New York
General Contractor and Construction Manager:Barr and Barr, New York
Lead Designer: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, New York
Submitted by: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture