LMN Architects is pleased to celebrate the opening of Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. The Seattle Symphony project is a new state-of-the-art space that creates a highly flexible research and development environment of “electronic architecture” unbound by the dimensions of the room.
Octave 9 offers a hub for artistic and high-tech partnerships to explore new worlds of musical expression. Located in Benaroya Hall at the corner of Union Street and Second Avenue, Octave 9 provides new access to music education and experimentation in downtown Seattle. The space expands on Seattle Symphony’s well-established educational programs, while providing a venue to host performances, group meetings and community events. Octave 9 will also serve as an experimental space for artists and composers; a space in which to explore the capabilities of the venue itself as a creative tool for expanding interdisciplinary performance possibilities.
“Octave 9 is groundbreaking,” shared Krishna Thiagarajan, President & CEO of the Seattle Symphony and Benaroya Hall. “Arts are the way a society articulates itself, and through technology and creative design, Octave 9 enables us to forge a new path in the way we create and experience music.”
The 2,500 square foot facility features systems to create an immersive experience so that Octave 9’s physical environment can acoustically and visually disappear—an experience that responds to programming, rather than the surroundings. All surfaces and materials were considered for their acoustic absorptive properties to allow acoustic variability created by electronic sound systems: floors are carpeted; casework is made of micro-perforated wood; resting instruments go into built-in storage spaces; a mobile bar for social events can be rolled out or put away.
Speakers, microphones, projectors, lighting and HVAC are all integrated into a custom-designed acoustically absorptive ceiling, and 13 curving screens on circular tracks provide numerous options for interactive projections, including a nearly-360-degree immersive experience.
Composed of an array of sound absorbing cells made of a recycled felt-like material, the ceiling designed and fabricated by LMN Architects optimizes the room’s acoustic goals while also strategically integrating technical, electrical and mechanical systems—including 10 projectors, 62 full-range loudspeakers, 10 compact subwoofers and 28 microphones. The result is an intimate venue that is highly flexible, efficient and capable of morphing to the needs of the performance or activity, whether for a small school group, or an immersive, experimental artist performance.
Mark Reddington, Design Partner, comments: “We first began working with the Seattle Symphony when we designed Benaroya Hall over twenty years ago, and we are very pleased to collaborate again and create this innovative, flexible and experimental space for artists and composers. The new Octave 9 expands on the Symphony’s well-established educational programs, and every architectural element has been carefully designed to be adaptable and functional. Above all we hope this new performing arts space becomes a catalyst for new forms of music, a creative tool that pushes interdisciplinary performances to new frontiers, and a participatory sound machine for the city of Seattle.”
Using the Meyer Constellation digital acoustic system, the room can be outfitted to produce musical experiences that cross genres and disciplines. Processors recreate early reflections and reverberation, and play them through a series of loudspeakers on the ceiling, casework on the floor and portable units placed around the edges of the curved screens to imitate the acoustic performance of other settings. The system further supports “spatial sound,” which allows individual speakers to play selective sounds in distinct areas of the room, creating the impression of movement and fostering innovative exploration. This electronic architecture allows Octave 9 to feel acoustically as large as the Taj Mahal, or as compact as a closet, providing a flexible and functional space that can be customized to the needs of each event.
Scott Crawford, Project Designer, comments: “With Octave 9, the Seattle Symphony has made a commitment to collaborating with emerging artists who are expanding the definition of musical performance while also making these new technologies accessible to the greater community.
“Throughout the project, LMN leveraged parametric modeling to coordinate the variety of consultants and systems that occur within the space in order to deliver a design that goes beyond the typical high-tech blackbox studio. We are especially proud of the opportunity of designing and fabricating the acoustic ceiling system; a decision that came about to not only reduce cost, but also to expand our capabilities within the project delivery process.”
LMN Architects has designed a number of important projects in Seattle, including Benaroya Hall, McCaw Hall, the Washington State Convention Center Expansion, the Museum of History and Industry, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum Expansion & Renovation, and are currently designing the Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion to be located on the waterfront.