Celebrating its 150th anniversary, NEC opened the doors to its new Student Life and Performance Center. Situated directly across the street from historic Jordan Hall, this new facility for NEC includes a 250-seat opera studio/ black-box theater, orchestra rehearsal/performance room, and jazz rehearsal and recording space as part of the campus student life complex. The project also includes a new state-of-the-art library, 252-bed dormitory, and music commons/lounge area adjacent to the new dining commons.

The opera studio is a flexible space with an orchestra pit and reconfigurable seating. The side wall treatment is a combination of fabric over split face CMU and fabric over slightly angled plywood panels to sustain the sound, control flutter and prevent echoes. The room is located on the lower level, directly under the orchestra rehearsal and jazz ensemble rooms. This acoustically critical adjacency demanded a high level of isolation. Its construction includes grout-filled CMU walls, a resiliently-suspended multi-layer gypsum board ceiling, and a thick concrete floor slab. Both orchestra rehearsal and jazz ensemble room have grout-filled CMU walls and a wood floor over a secondary concrete floor slab, all of which are resiliently-supported, in addition to a multi-layer gypsum board ceiling.

The orchestra rehearsal/performance room’s large volume comfortably accommodates up to 75 musicians. Cross-room communication is achieved by the suspended canvas reflector array. Hardwood finish floor and wainscot wood paneling provide room response to the musicians. Absorptive wall panels and split-face CMU provide loudness control and high-frequency diffusion. Absorptive banners can be deployed to reduce the reverberation time.

Located across the performance lobby from the orchestra rehearsal, the ensemble room has been primarily designed as a jazz rehearsal/performance space and the main recording live room for large music ensembles. With a tall ceiling and similar canvas reflector array, the room is surrounded by absorptive wall panels on the lower zone. The upper zone is exposed split-face CMU walls that can be covered by absorptive banners. Above the reflectors, a series of absorptive baffles provide low-frequency absorption.

Project Details
Audiovisual Systems Design
Mechanical Noise Control
Room Acoustics Design
Sound Isolation
Gensler, Architect of Record, Boston, MA
Ann Beha Architects, Architect, Boston, MA
Fischer Dachs, Theater Consultant, New York, NY
250-seat Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre, Orchestra rehearsal / performance room, Large ensemble room, Recording Control Room