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Designing new Space

Hello Fellow Choir Directors!

My school district is currently looking to consolidate buildings and build a new music department in what is currently the Middle School building and will become the high school after this coming school year. I'm meeting with the architect on Wednesday at 4:00 (my superintendent set the meeting Monday afternoon) and he would like us to bring a list of our dream space. I am looking to you if you can think of anything that I should put on my "wish list" for a brand new space, or something that I should absolutely not have in the space.

We're looking at two different rooms at least (1 for band, 1 for choir) and we might need space for general music as well. The space will likely include practice rooms and offices for the 3 music dept. faculty.

Choirs will be 7-12 (at least 2 different ensembles, though I'm hoping to split them up a little more than that.)

The space will be located off the back of the gym (which is where we perform).

I really don't even know where to start when designing a space like this, so any and all ideas and recommendations are very much appreciated.

Thank you so much for your help! If you want any other clarification, please let me know and I'll get back to you as soon as I can (I have a concert tomorrow night so I'm feeling a little rushed with this whole turnaround).

Thanks again and have a great end of your school years!

on May 20, 2014 12:57pm
Peter,
 
I would look at the Wenger website. They have several resources for desiging music spaces; I would start with the Planning Guide for Music Facilities. If nothing else, if this is the first design meeting, dream big and ask for everything. If you have future meetings, you can present your wishes in a more prioritized order.
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 21, 2014 4:44am
PLEASE!!!!!   Take atchitect pronouncements with a cup or two of salt!
Too many of them are obsessed with ARTIFICIAL acoustic management and this will WASTE lots of money, and leave you with HUGE headaches.
 
For BAND you need a DEADENABLE room — otherwise you'll end up DEAF.
For CHOIR you want the livliest acoustic you can achieve given what will probably be a relatively small, low-ceilinged space.  
 
An acoustic which encourages good choral singing is best achieved in a space where the CEILING height is at least equal to (preferably greater than) the lesser of the floor dimensions and the floor, walls, and ceiling are hard, solid, and reflective.   If the design (or modification) is correct, you will need NO artificial gadgets to achieve a space where everyone can hear CLEARLY. 
 
ANY «sound-attenuation treatments» MUST be easily REMOVEABLE.  Too many spaces I have had to work in were RUINED by über-permanent «acoustical treatments» which cost mega-bucks to remove when they became a problem for a subsequent different use.
 
Good luck!  There ARE THOUGHTFUL architects out there. Unfortunately, many seem to have suffered lobotomies when it comes to proper acoustic design. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 21, 2014 5:13am
Flat floors for rehearsal rooms. You can always add risers/platforms to a flat floor, but a floor with built-in terraces is pretty hard to change. Offices and practice rooms with sound-proof windows that enter directly from the rehearsal rooms, not from a separate hallway. A few larger practice rooms where groups of 4-5 can fit comfortably. Easily accessible storage space for music and uniforms, and plenty of it. Think through how you like to distribute uniforms, music, and equipment and try to design the space to meet those needs. Large screens in rehearsal rooms/classrooms for electronic projection.
 
And especially for band rooms- acoustics. Some instrument rehearsal rooms can reach 95+ decibels for sustained periods because of poor or non-existent acoustical design. That sort of exposure in industry would bring out OSHA in droves.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on May 22, 2014 8:23am
Wow... I could go on and on with horror stories, but the previous comments have been great.  Make sure you address air conditioning.  In one hall I visited, the air handler was suspended from the center of the rehearsal room, and in another the 'a/c yard' was immediately outside.  The roar of about a dozen condenser units, in September in Texas, was about as quiet as a jet plane.
 
Rather than have a bunch of practice rooms, think of every room doubling as a practice room.  Make them open directly into your main halls where possible.  In one school where I taught, the architect brilliantly designed about twelve rooms facing onto a dead-end hall.  It was quickly dubbed 'The Hatchery' and used almost only for storage.
 
Check the wall construction.  In today's typical buildings, the walls do not go up to the roof deck, meaning the only thing between rooms is actually only dropped ceiling panels.  Even classroom teachers find it very annoying to hear everything happening next door.
 
For what it's worth, we are not alone.  In another school where I taught, they built a beautiful new gym, refusing faculty input.  When the coaches finally got into the building, there was a problem...  The architect didn't know that girls played basketball these days; there were dressing rooms only for the boys.  They had to pass another bond issue to build dressing rooms for home and visitors, and girls and boys JV and Freshman teams.
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