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Striking the right note in LA

Nick Myall
Wednesday 24 Feb 2016

The new Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center at UCLA in Los Angeles provides a pioneering new home where music can be created, shared and studied

This new music performance facility by Kevin Daly Architects wraps state-of-the-art studios and practice facilities around an existing campus building to animate public space on campus while offering glimpses into the dynamic process of creating, practicing and performing music.

The new Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center at UCLA in Los Angeles, California provides a pioneering new home for this university’s outstanding Music, Ethnomusicology, and Musicology departments, where music is created, shared, and studied in digitally integrated, professional-quality facilities. Two pavilions, one a state-of-the-art recording studio and the other an ensemble performance room, are attached to the existing School of Music. The ensemble rehearsal space has a café at ground level and faculty offices and teaching studios above. The second pavilion is an industry-quality recording studio featuring a live room large enough for film scoring, recording up to 40 musicians and a control room that can accommodate numerous production personnel. 

The 4,300 sq ft recording studio is delicately attached to an existing structure that was originally designed by Welton Beckett. The three-story, 16,000 sq ft ensemble and instructional building animate the south and west sides to engage the public. The large ensemble room, which serves as a performance hall, rehearsal space, and classroom, is large enough for opera rehearsals but also intimate enough to be used as an individual teaching space. Both the recording studio and the ensemble room are open to the campus through windows and jewel openings – unique for rooms that are typically completely closed off from their context. The typically mandated brick palette for the campus was reinterpreted in a custom terra cotta siding that uses angled tiles and painted metal fins to address the material scale of surrounding campus buildings.

Music technology systems are now pervasive throughout the building to form a digital nerve centre that connects performance, practice, and teaching. A fully-equipped, acoustically-isolated recording facility offers students the opportunity to create recordings in a state-of-the-art professional environment using contemporary technologies for the composition, preservation and dissemination of music.  

While both rooms are designed for a specific reverberation cycle and acoustical attenuation, they are also treated as acoustical “landscapes” that provide localised sound environments for individuals or small groups of musicians. The interior surfaces incorporate a custom-designed wooden baffle of Douglas fir and Spruce and allows varying amounts of sound to be absorbed or reflected back into the space. The architectural firm specifically designed the rooms to create a sensation of being within a musical instrument.

The WAN Performing Spaces Award 2016 is open to enter until 29 February.

Nick Myall

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