1992           BAD ANIMALS - STUDIO X, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Built by the band Heart in partnership with an existing production facility, the studio was intended to be available to the local symphony orchestra and other cultural institutions beyond its personal and commercial use. During the initial period of Seattle’s growing grunge music scene, the city also needed a high-end studio facility to provide the necessary support for local recordings.

The project includes a music recording studio with a control room and a large “live” space, several isolation rooms for piano and vocals, two lounges – one for artists and one for staff – and support areas containing bathrooms, machine and computer rooms. The objective was to integrate the new studio into a former video shooting stage within the operating facility, but to allow its completely independent operation as well as to set a new contemporary standard for the interior and acoustical design of the facility.

The design needed to be functionally flexible. It was necessary for the spaces to be large enough to accommodate an entire orchestra, yet remain acoustically intimate, suitable for live recordings with just two or three musicians. The music would vary as well, from classical to jazz and rock ‘n’ roll.

Particular attention is paid to the acoustic performance of each new room, with design elements serving sonic as well as aesthetic functions. The slat resonators in the studios and control room are tuned to the specific resonant frequency of these rooms. The wood panels shielding the studio curtains in their retracted position are angled to eliminate parallel wall surfaces, and are framed with a variably spaced support system to avoid duplicate panel resonances. The soffits surrounding the large tracking room space act as bass traps, eliminating excessive low frequency build-ups in the room corners. The undulating ceiling cloud in the studio was crafted from laminated plywood ribs and vacuum-formed maple panels by a local shipbuilder. Its sinuous rhythm brings to mind images of water and music. The fabric-covered frames, white-stained maple panels and slats, with their exposed steel frames and supporting elements, have a layered, repetitive quality that has definite musical connotations as well. The control room front wall, about twenty-two tons of concrete, is the first of its kind built in the United States. The raw concrete contrasts with the floating wood panels and fabric finishes on the other control-room walls.

building use: music recording and mixing      
project scope:    1,700 sf; architecture, interiors, acoustics
schedule:  completed 1992
construction cost:         not available