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3D Audio Research Lab; 10.2 Surround Sound; 25-Seat Contr...
NYU Unveils $6.5 Million Music Technology Complex At Steinhardt School
3D Audio Research Lab; 10.2 Surround Sound; 25-Seat Control/Class Room

NEW YORK: NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development has announced a ground-breaking new addition: The James L. Dolan Recording/Teaching complex at the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions is one of the most technically advanced audio teaching facilities in the United States. Created to provide students with an exemplary learning environment, the $6.5 million, 7500 sq. ft. compound is devoted to contemporary Music Technology: Theory, Cognition, Informatics, Computer Music, Recording, Production, and Immersive Audio.

“The scale and depth of the technological and acoustical capacity of this facility is unparalleled,” said Robert Rowe, vice-chair, director of music composition. “We are deeply appreciative of the contributions by James L. Dolan, president and CEO of Cablevision Systems Corporation and chairman of Madison Square Garden, and the Dolan Family Foundation, as well as New York University and the Steinhardt School, without whose support this dream could not have been realized.”

To create a teaching complex of this magnitude, a master team of architects, acousticians, and technologists was formed by an NYU Steinhardt School faculty team, consisting of Dr. Rowe; Tom Beyer, chief systems engineer/adjunct professor; Dr.Kenneth Peacock, program director; and Dr. Agnieszka Roginska, director of music technology.

“In 2007 when the entire 6th floor of our 35 West 4 Street building was dedicated to the new facility we initiated a vigorous RFP process,” Rowe adds. “Having worked on a number of NYU and Steinhardt projects Gensler was an obvious choice as our primary architectural firm. The Walters Storyk Design Group was highly recommended for architectural and acoustical design. In addition to extensive high-end recording studio design credits, they have created many of this country’s finest audio teaching facilities.”

Describing their architectural program, Gensler principal and design director Keith Rosen comments, “The view into the Control Room through the Reception Area rear wall immediately establishes Steinhardt as an advanced teaching facility. The challenge was to fit an extremely dense program into a relatively tight space. To maximize the flexibility of the larger multi-functional spaces, such as the conference/performance room and study/pantry areas, we developed various private and shared spaces along a single circulation loop. Glass interior walls and doors provide Students and Faculty with natural light, a great asset in a facility with interior studios. Raised floor construction will ease changes in program and technology. The existing steel trusses slicing through the space were embraced as organizing elements for the Control Room and other critical sound isolation areas. The punched windows provide visitors with views into the recording studios. The design constraints we encountered have been turned into powerful aesthetic and way-finding elements,” Rosen concludes.

Walters-Storyk Design Group associates—systems integrator, Judy Elliot-Brown; project manager, Joshua Morris; technology integrator, David Kotch and architect/acoustician, John Storyk—worked closely with the Gensler design team: project principal, Joshua Katz; project managers, Alfonso D’ Onofrio and Kent Hikida; project designer, Kelly Combs; designer, Joshua Geisinger and design director, Keith Rosen, to plan and execute the facility’s demanding recording studio and performance environments.

The complex is distinguished by a 25-seat control/class room which features a fully automated 48 channel SSL Duality Console; Lipinski L707 and L150 sub speakers, and the first Dangerous Music 10.2 surround installation in NYC. In addition to a live room large enough to accommodate a small orchestra, the floor includes several research laboratories, offices, a conference/seminar room and a large iso/drum booth. Multiple windows and a full line of sight provide natural light throughout.

A unique Research Lab dedicated to 3D Audio experimentation is equipped with an innovative, reconfigurable grid outfitted with sixteen Genelec speakers, two Genelec subs and multi-channel miking, tracking and playback options. The lab also boasts extremely low (.2 second) reverb time.

“The James Dolan Studio presented us with a number of inherent design challenges which required inventive solutions,” comments WSDG co-principal John Storyk. “Paramount among these were three floor-to-ceiling steel building trusses unfortunately and permanently situated in areas which impacted on our ability to situate the control and live room doors where logic dictated. A significant design effort and construction process was engaged to get these rooms to function at optimal level. This was one of the project's most demanding and ultimately gratifying solutions,” Storyk said. “As a teacher and frequent lecturer at many schools around the country, I am extremely aware of the need to provide students with sufficient work space and visual access to instructors. Those issues were among our deepest concerns in developing this design program.”

WSDG systems integrator Judy Elliot-Brown emphasizes initial concerns over sufficient infrastructure to accommodate the massive conduit run throughout the ceiling. “The voluminous number of unwieldy cables coupled with the need to provide space for future technology and convenient access points for maintenance and systems upgrades required extraordinary preparation,” Elliot-Brown says. “Our REVIT building information modeling software played an indispensible role in putting this intricate system together.”

WSDG associate David Kotch collaborated with Masque Sound ( on technology selection and integration. “The NYU Steinhardt complex required a huge number of tie lines to accommodate its vast arsenal of technology,” Kotch says. “Systems include two separate 10.2 surround installations, a Dangerous Music ST/ST Monitor Controller for the Recording Studio’s critical listening environment and a Renkus Heinz multi-configuration speaker system for the large-screen, HDTV projector-equipped conference/ screening room. Additionally, we stipulated universal Crestron Control, to provide total touch-screen interface between audio and video systems throughout the complex. HD/SDI & Composite video routing systems, a Yamaha DME 64 Controller, 2 Soundweb London Blue 16 Processors and extensive microphone /speaker wiring enable students to use the Loewe Theater, Conference Room, Research Lab, reception area, offices, even bathrooms as live recording environments. Virtually the entire complex is directly linked to the main control room. Accommodating and engineering this system called for a herculean effort from the entire design and installation group.”

“We are confident that the James Dolan Recording/Teaching Complex at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Music and Performing Arts Professions marks a significant advance in our ability to prepare students for successful careers in the expanding field of Music Technology,” Prof. Beyer said. “It is important to note that while previous generations have been primarily focused on the traditional arts of creating, recording and mixing music for theatrical, broadcast, film, television and radio productions, today’s professional music industry encompasses a considerably wider and more technically demanding curriculum.”

“A wealth of new fields ranging from forensic audio reconstruction to perceptual audio coding, virtual acoustics and video game sound development are expanding current and future employment environment horizons,” Dr. Roginska concludes. “Computer science developments, new job titles and entire new fields of research are surfacing on an almost daily basis. The only way to prepare for this brave new world is through education. It was the teams’ intention that The Steinhardt School’s innovative Music Technology Complex will serve for many years as an invaluable training portal for our next generation of audio professionals.”

(Photo: Cheryl Fleming Photography

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