February 26, 2013 By Aaron Stern
The Berklee College of Music is renowned for training up-and-coming contemporary musicians. Its alumni include Grammy Award winners such as Quincy Jones, Esperanza Spalding and John Mayer, and members of bands as diverse as Aerosmith, Steely Dan and the Dixie Chicks.
And while the iconic school stands out even among the numerous world-class educational institutions in and around Boston, it is not necessarily known for technological innovation and architectural design expertise.
That may soon change.
The school opened its first international campus in 2011 in Valencia, Spain, and recently added to that facility a world-class recording complex. At the heart of this facility are a 1,600 square-foot scoring stage and studio, a 500 square-foot control room, two ISO overdub booths and an isolated machine room — all tucked neatly into a stunning architectural package built with huge glass windows to maximize the view of its location at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, an outdoor plaza and a major tourist attraction that is home to the city’s architecturally striking opera house.
“What you see from those windows is amazing,” says Jorge Rostoll, the executive director of Berklee Valencia.
High Class Components
The new facility is configured through a central machine room, creating a high-speed level of connectivity between all of the rooms, including the facility’s concert halls. And the whole system is set up to allow joint collaboration between the Valencia and Boston campuses.
“We decided to employ Avid/Euphonix controllers to take advantage of their Eucon protocol that allows seamless migration of projects across the facility, all the way up to the flagship System 5,” Carl Beatty, Berklee chief of staff, said in a press release. The control room in Studio K features the Meyers Acheron 7.1 surround monitoring system, an acknowledged industry standard, and was designed to meet Dolby specifications and readied for the new Dolby Atmos Cinema Sound monitoring protocol.
“The level of detail in the studio is extremely high,” Rostoll says.
Design-Build From Afar
Walters-Storyck Design Group (WSDG), the designer of the new facility, has built studios for the likes of Jay-Z, Celine Dion and Bruce Springsteen. The Berklee Valencia project stacks up to those.
“From a technical standpoint its either identical or even more sophisticated,” says Romina Larregina, the WSDG project manager. “This facility is very sophisticated.”
The biggest challenge for her was quarterbacking the project from the WSDG offices in upstate New York, while working with builders who didn’t speak English and had never done a studio before. Fortunately, Larregina, originally from Argentina, is a native Spanish speaker — and spent almost half of her time during the ten-month project on site.
“The amount of attention to detail that has to be put into the studios, it is huge,” she says. “You have to be very attentive to the details.”
“‘We [selected] every single material, every neoprene joint, every cable, every wire, every connector,” says Rostoll. Still, as is always the case with new facilities, you don’t know how they’ll work until they’re put to the test, a process that Rostoll likened to building a ship in dry dock, then setting it afloat. Fortunately, this ship sailed just fine.
“The day we tested that, it worked perfectly,” Rostoll says.