On the Cover: Jungle City Studios

Jun 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Tom Kenny

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The 32-channel Avid ICON room, again with Augspurger mains and lots of light.

The 32-channel Avid ICON room, again with Augspurger mains and lots of light.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Mincieli has plenty of A-list engineering credits, but it’s her association with Keys, and the build-out of her The Oven Studios in Long Island in 2005, that led to Jungle City. It was the laboratory, the incubator for the design process, Storyk says. Building The Oven taught Mincieli that she, as an engineer, could bring a real perspective to the design as a whole, and not just the sound.

The Euphonix room with dual-15 Augspurgers and a Louis Vitton monitor wall

The Euphonix room with dual-15 Augspurgers and a Louis Vitton monitor wall

She knew from the beginning that she wanted multiple rooms and a north-south facing layout, with plenty of light. She looked at upward of 50 spaces during the course of two years before signing off on 520 West 27th. It’s a new building in a hot area of Manhattan, with galleries moving in, new restaurants and a luxury hotel set to open right next door. She has the top two floors, 10 and 11, and while the space is not huge, it can fit a full band and it feels much bigger thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Still, at the 11th hour, it almost didn’t happen.

“We had one serious structural issue,” Storyk recalls. “Upon initial investigation, it appeared that the floors couldn’t handle the load required for isolated room construction. Fortunately, WSDG was able to re-engineer the pre-cast concrete planks between the floors, and then completely move a building stack that would have been right in the middle of the control room glass. Once we passed those hurdles, we were able to dig right into the design process.”

The Penthouse Studio, pictured on this month’s cover, is really a study in glass and working with energy. Thirty percent of the studio is glass, with views from the Empire State Building to the East and the Hudson River to the West. The monitor wall looking forward is all-glass, and the back wall of the control room has windows fronted by QRD custom plexiglas diffusors.

“I’m an architect first, so naturally I love glass,” Storyk says. “Annie and I wanted to optimize all the spectacular views, and we viewed glass as an asset, not a liability. Although glass always reflects sound, it doesn’t have to disturb sound. Given the geometry of the room, it was obvious that the east floor-to-ceiling studio wall would do the heavy lifting for the acoustical treatments [see cover image].It looks like a pretty wall with LED lighting, but that wall is a sophisticated acoustical reflector/absorber with RPG microperf panels. Once we had that, we could work with the glass wall, which had to be thick and non-resonating. If you think about it, every designer has to make non-vibrating glass for the control room window, so I just made 10 of them! If you look closely at the detail, they are essentially 12-foot-high control room windows with mullions between them.

“So now we have angled glass to one side, the east wall absorption, wood floors—this is a hip-hop studio at times, so where is the low-frequency energy going to go?” he continues. “Well, there’s only one surface left. Look up. All those little angled features that look decorative? They’re all tuned membrane absorbers, every one slightly different. We needed that room to work for a vocalist, a pianist, trumpet or sax. So it has to have some soul to it, some guts, some reverb. Our experience at Oven dictated that it couldn’t be a dead, dry room. Anybody who has been around high-ceilinged rooms that are reverberant but still need separation will tell you that the trick is not high-frequency absorption. The trick is to get the low-frequency reverb time to roll off. All the great rooms, going back to RCA Studios, have the low-frequency reverb time rolling off. A creative software program aided us in developing the optimum ceiling solution.”

All the best designers steal from themselves. Knowing that Mincieli wanted an open feel, he proposed a glass monitor wall between the Duality-equipped control room and the studio, something he had implemented in two studios previously and perfected at Jungle City. It appears the dual-15 Augspurger mains are floating, not in a box.

“There are a few tricks to get it right,” Storyk explains, without giving away his secrets. “First, you have to get the glass thickness correct. Then you have to figure out how to get power and wires in. And third—and this is what seems so obvious that it eluded me—the glass plane, the flush plane to the speakers, has absolutely nothing to do with the isolation. That’s the trick. And it works.”






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