Thoughtful Design Produces a Premier Recording Studio in an Abandoned Industrial Building

The wrappings became architectural investigations of the technical needs dictated by the level of sound isolation required for the Control and Tracking Rooms. The first wrap is the existing building shell, which is composed of 12-inch concrete block masonry. Floating just inside the exterior shell is the second wrap, an interior wall resiliently supported off of the existing structure and comprised of a 12- inch minimum air space with 2 1/2 pounds per square foot of glass fiber fill between stud framing with a single layer of 5/8-inch gypsum board and a 1 1/2-pound-per-square-foot vinyl deadsheet, which is utilized to dampen and absorb low-frequency sound.

The Sound Lock, a small highly absorptive vestibule, reduces noise transmission and provides acoustic control between the Tracking Room and Control Room. PHOTO: Justin Maconochie Photography

The Sound Lock, a small highly absorptive vestibule, reduces noise transmission
and provides acoustic control between the Tracking Room and Control Room. PHOTO: Justin Maconochie Photography

Depending on the location within the program, the exposed interior finish is a wood veneered plywood or gypsum wallboard. The floor consists of composite wood panels and a plywood backer on resilient isolators over a roll-out glass fiber mat. The ceiling of the interior shell consists of two layers of 5/8-inch gypsum suspended from the concrete plank roof deck by isolator assemblies. The drum booth and north wall of the tracking room are “live” areas, with deeply raked CMU on fiberglass isolation pads.

The third layer varies depending on immediate location needs and is comprised of an adjustable absorption system of fabric to tune the room from live to dead and absorptive sidewalls. The control room headwall required a special wall surface, which would be acoustically dispersive (binary diffusion), yet be responsive to proximity of sound sources. The material investigation resulted in what became known as “crunchy fabric”—fiberglass on molded mesh framework with finishing completed in an automobile body shop.

Effigy Studios has been the recording site for many distinguished recording artists, songwriters and record producers, including Rihanna, 50 Cent, Keane, Dr. Dre and Patti Smith, among others. Today, Effigy Studios is owned by the eminent Detroit-based recording artist Eminem and has served as the recording location for two of his albums.

Retrofit Team

Architect and general contractor: inFORM studio, Northville, Mich., in-formstudio.com
Plumbing: Collings Plumbing, Wayne, Mich., (734) 729-5669
Mechanical: McShane Mechanical, Ferndale, Mich., (248) 336-1366
Electrical: G&B Electric, Ferndale, (248) 547-5441

Retrofit Materials

Acoustic panels: Decoustics, www.decoustics.com, and Tectum, www.tectum.com
Doors: R.K. Hoppe Corp., (248) 437-7071
Curtain: Norcostco Inc., www.norcostco.com
Cellulose insulation: International Cellulose Corp., www.spray-on.com

About the Author

Cory Lavigne, AIA, LEED AP
Cory Lavigne, AIA, LEED AP, is a design director with inFORM Studio, a design-based practice with offices in Northville, Mich., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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