William Rawn Associates, Architect; Boston MA, Theatre Project Consultants, Theatre Consultant; New York, NY
Bowdoin’s new music facility is a unique adaptive reuse project, converting the 100-year-old McKim Meade and White natatorium into a 285-seat concert/recital hall. The narrow building has a lobby at one end, a rehearsal room at the other, and the recital hall between.
The stage is a story below the lobby, allowing the backstage to tuck under the rehearsal room and the toilets to tuck under the lobby. Within the recital hall side galleries connect the back of the hall to a choral terrace behind the stage. Curved wood walls embrace the main seating, their angle pushing sound into the upper half of the room, where the historic swimming pool walls are retained. Sound-transparent pylons behind the side gallery seating conceal movable acoustic banners and provide diffusion. A perforated metal ceiling gives sound access to the attic volume; a wood reflector over the stage helps musicians hear each other.
Secondary glazing and a resiliently-supported secondary roof provide excellent isolation from the exterior.
A small number of high-quality loudspeakers allow clear, beautiful amplification and playback. A retractable projection screen and concealed projector make projection easy. The room is frequently used for recording.
Adjacent to the hall is a new 1-½ story structure that ties the recital hall to an adjacent gymnasium. It includes a large mechanical room and six practice rooms, with three more practice rooms tucked in beneath the gymnasium floor. A new concrete lid over these rooms isolates them from the thump of basketballs. A geothermal system supplies heating and cooling for the building quietly and efficiently.