NEW YORK – In October, music facility National Sawdust moved into a former warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The highly reconfigurable non-profit performance, rehearsal and recording venue – a collaboration between design studio Bureau V and engineering firm Arup Acoustics – is cradled within a concrete envelope that rests on acoustic isolation springs. A synthesis of the finely crafted concert hall and the black box, with its capacity for unconventional programming, the space features finishes that absorb, diffuse and reflect sound, including an articulated precision-movement stage and curtains that help ‘tune’ the interior to the instrumentation.
Architect Peter Zuspan says that open drapes benefit ‘reverberant, unamplified performances’, whereas closed curtains ‘absorb a blast of amplified sound’. Even the hyper-graphical walls have a dual aural purpose: they wrap the faceted two-storey chamber hall and comprise a perforated ‘visually translucent but acoustically transparent’ metal-and-textile skin. This box-in-box system hangs 46 cm from the factory’s exposed brick carapace, says Zuspan, ‘so when a semi-truck hits a taxi cab outside, you hear and feel nothing inside’. Artists can even record in the building’s black herringbone-tiled lobby.