The project site is a commercial storefront building with six original narrow bays in a rather unglamorous area of Hollywood. The starting point was an existing small recording studio in one of the bays; the project is the first phase of its upgrade and expansion into a world-class professional music recording and mixing suite. Future expansions are planned for the remaining bays of the building in adjacent structures.

Surrounded by discount shoe stores, a pet store and adult entertainment establishments, the project adds a new, sophisticated element to the neighborhood. The necessity for tightly soundproofed spaces is contradicted by a relatively open front façade adjacent to a noisy thoroughfare. Another inherent contradiction exists between security concerns in a rough neighborhood and the desired visual connection to the outside. An industrial galvanized steel screen protects the storefront on busy Western Avenue, but behind it the main exterior elevation of the building offers the typical glazed façade to the street. The steel screen provides security and shade for the west facing façade.

The search for an appropriate expression of the program and solutions to the technical problems were the main generators of the design. In addition to the client’s requested water theme, the designers explored ways to express the ephemeral nature of sound, and methods to visualize the sonic forces shaped into the studio spaces.

The studios are contained in a single volume inserted into the space. Within the exposed rough finishes of the old building, the luminous volume of the sound areas designates the special status and purpose of the high-tech sound processing facility.

Undulating translucent Lumasite panels wrap the studio exterior; the pattern is repeated inside for acoustical purposes. Expressing the power of the sound waves created within, the shifting and omnipresent studio box reacts to and informs the surrounding service areas. Strategically placed shelves and cupboards take advantage of the depth, where the undulating layers are pushed away from the hard shells behind.

Strategically placed shelves and cupboards take advantage of the depth, where the undulating layers are pushed away from the hard shells behind.

New skylights have been cut into the roof to provide natural daylight and emphasize the volume of the studio suites. A dichotomy between dark, isolated studio rooms and light-flooded common areas create a tension that reflects the working methods of artists and recording engineers.

The highly technical and accurate recording space and control room, along with the machine room at the core, are crucial elements of the design. Strict acoustic parameters and equipment requirements are paramount in the studio. The control room houses the central monitoring and mixing equipment, and its acoustic frequency response and reflection patterns are carefully engineered. The tracking room requires even higher isolation levels, and a severely controlled acoustic environment. The studio becomes at once a musical instrument (reinforcing and aiding the sound generated by musicians) and a machine for translating the sound into analog and digital information.

The technological complexity and necessary accuracy of the recording equipment and its seamless integration into the building are expressed here by the architecture of the studio environment.


building use: commercial music recording studio facility          
project scope:    6,000sf; architecture, interiors, acoustics
schedule:  completed 2003
construction cost:         $750,000