February 11, 2006

Construction zone...

My son Will (the singer) and I went on a "hard-hat tour" of what will be the new home of the SF Conservatory of Music at 50 Oak St. I was fascinated--I Iove seeing what's happening "backstage" of almost anything. Will seemed pretty interested too, though he's too cool to show it.

They've taken a historic 6-story 1907 building, and just kept two facades and a ballroom. Everything else is new, including digging an extra below-ground level and creating completely new foundations. There will be many new classrooms and practice rooms, with double walls and enough other insulation that sound from one won't impinge on the adjacent one. And three performance halls so well sound-proofed that the fire trucks on the next block can't be heard at all.

SF Conservatory, new concert hall
This is the largest of the three performance halls. What you see is the old ballroom, which forms the audience end of the hall. (Not my photo; this space was mostly stuffed with scaffolding today, and we had to guess at what it would look like.)

They've done a lot of really neat things. On the three top floors, where most of the classrooms and practice rooms are, the main corridor on each floor has curved walls, convex, so the corridor is narrower in the middle. This is visually exciting, creates wide areas where people can gather, makes it easier to roll pianos around the corner, and gives all the adjoining rooms a curved wall,which is much better acoustically!

They also scattered practice rooms and studios throughout the building, tucking them into odd corners. They don't want there to be any "enclaves." Everyone will have to move around and mix. The only enclave is the administrative offices, grouped around a "workroom" with all the printers and copiers...

We were on a balcony up near the ceiling of one performance hall, and could see drywall being applied 5 layers thick! And a floating ceiling being built, that hung from things like the shock-absorbers in your car. Also, the ceiling was not square to the room, but lower in one corner.

You can see more pictures here.

Posted by John Weidner at February 11, 2006 4:06 PM
Weblog by John Weidner