Sounds Good

Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood to get a $30 million expansion

Architecture East
Boston Symphony Orchestra to get a $30 new summer home. (Courtesy William Rawn Associates)
Boston Symphony Orchestra to get a $30 new summer home. (Courtesy William Rawn Associates)

In Lenox, Massachusetts, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is putting money into expanding the Tanglewood Music Center, a place the orchestra has called home during summertime since 1932. The $30 million project is being headed by Boston firm William Rawn Associates. The practice has designed four new buildings for the site including a multi-use rehearsal and performance venue, cafe, and two small studios.

“We know the site very well, we have a history here,” said Bill Rawn, founding principal of William Rawn Associates. The firm designed the Sieji Ozawa Hall, a 36,000-square-foot venue for the Boston’s Symphony Orchestra’s summer shows 25 years ago. Orientated in a linear fashion, the coterie of new buildings set for Tanglewood cover 24,000 square feet. Rawn stressed that the additions did not attempt to outdo Ozawa Hall in terms of scale. “They’re much less monolithic, Ozawa Hall is still the centerpiece.”

Inside Studio 1. (Courtesy William Rawn Associates)

Inside Studio 1. (Courtesy William Rawn Associates)

Predominantly, the site is geared for outdoor circulation among the four new buildings. A canopy protrudes over a pathway adjacent to landscaping, which is courtesy of Reed Hilderbrand, a landscape architecture firm from Cambridge.

Clifford Gayley, another principle at William Rawn, described “Studio 1,” a new multi-use performance space that will seat 200 when being used for small-scale performances. The room will also double up as a place for rehearsals, banqueting and as a lecture hall. Despite extensive fenestration (for a music-based space, at least) Studio 1 performs well acoustically thanks to Chicago acoustic specialists Kirkegaard Associates who prescribed horizontal wood paneling for the interior.

Speaking to The Architect’s Newspaper, President of Kirkegaard, Joseph Myers said how his firm had to be careful not to place the glass too close or far away so to avoid creating a “confusing echo” effect. Windows bathe the space in natural daylight and allow audiences to gaze at the scenery behind and around performers.

“Given the size of the space, loudness wasn’t an issue, but we wanted to ensure that sound was kept clear and crisp for when a lecturer is speaking,” said Myers. Motorized wooden grills can be exposed during loud performances to absorb sound. Here, the size of the gaps between the timber stops reverberations. Meanwhile, speakers are aimed at the retractable seating risers, intended to be used when lectures are taking place.

Gayley added that the timber interior of Studio 1 is carried through materially throughout the scheme, creating spaces “that are instantly recognizable as new.” All the new buildings will be climate controlled and, as with Studio 1, feature views out onto the landscape and beyond to Ozawa Hall. Groundbreaking is scheduled fall this year, with project completion in summer 2019.

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