New York, NY – March 22, 2019 – Less than a decade ago, acoustic design was an afterthought among many top U.S. colleges and universities. Not just for the diversity of music and production programs, but for critical integrated elements such as theater and classroom design. Not so anymore. Leading architectural / acoustic consulting and AV integration firm WSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group), whose recent clients include Concordia College, Drexel University, University of Michigan, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and New York University among others, reports a rising consciousness of audio across the education vertical.
WSDG — which synthesizes its 50 years of experience in acoustics, systems engineering and education — attributes this rise in awareness not only to increasing opportunities for audio professionals in the workplace, but also for the need to facilitate learning environments that foster clear, intelligible communication among students and educational staff.
“Audio intelligibility and progressive acoustic design have become a core requirement for music production / business programs at top universities and liberal arts programs across the country,” observes WSDG Partner Sergio Molho. “As educational institutions increasingly recognize the value of acoustic design as an integral component to a basic, holistic communications platform — our firm is increasingly engaged for our expertise, and, much earlier in the design process.”
As the media landscape continues to shift and reinvent itself, students are pursuing new opportunities in streaming media, VR/AR technologies, gaming technologies, immersive audio, sports broadcasting and other audio-related career paths that were less common — or non-existent — just a decade ago. Concurrently, educational institutions are developing new programs — and sophisticated audio infrastructures — to accommodate these and related areas of study. On the consumer side, the sensory ‘pendulum’ appears to be swinging back towards audio, as focus at major trade fairs around the world is now skewed towards such topics such as headphones, audio streaming, home theaters and immersive audio technologies. Meantime, the ‘podcast generation’ is increasingly enthusiastic towards the spoken word and it embraces new streaming technologies.
Innovative and education-focused design and integration
Leading institutions that recently integrated sophisticated acoustic designs into their facilities include Drexel University, which added a 2,500 square-foot production facility to accommodate student requirements. “We recognized the need to expand our recording, mixing, and production facility to effectively support the two key tracks of our popular Music Industry programs—Recording Arts & Music Production and Music Business,” says Allen Sabinson, Dean of Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.
After completing a fundraising campaign for its – world-class audio production and education complex, Drexel retained WSDG to design a new space, which included a flagship studio of 1,500 square feet, a post-production control room, two 1,000 square-foot MIDI labs, a spacious student lounge, and a unique archive suite as part of the new facility. These spaces help prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow’s audio industry careers.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the world’s 3rd highest ranked research college and the institution is a leading player in the emerging field of immersive audio and 3D audio production. WSDG was engaged to upgrade and renovate RPI’s 1,700 square foot audio recording and production studio and to design and implement a new 1,000 square-foot audio recording/production studio, a 300 square-foot audio control room, a 100 square-foot iso lab, a 160 square-foot video control room and a 90 square-foot AV lab.
RPI’s Immersive Production Complex now provides an innovative environment where students can experiment and apply concepts in the creation, performance and production of 3D immersive media. The complex also facilitates collaboration with the university’s Experimental and Performing Arts Center and Cognitive Immersive Systems Lab.
For Concordia University Irvine, WSDG designed a new 1,100 square foot professional recording studio (currently under construction), which will mirror top commercial studios located in nearby Los Angeles. The University’s Commercial Music program helps prepare students for careers in diverse disciplines including musical performance, songwriting, composing for media (TV, film, and gaming) and music production. WSDG employed advanced acoustic modeling measurement, instrumentation tests and programs to predict and tune acoustics throughout the recording studio, and the entire newly constructed 37,500 square foot building.
New York University’s James L. Dolan Recording/Teaching complex offers one of America’s most technically advanced audio teaching facilities. The extraordinary $6.5 million, 7500 sq. ft. learning environment is devoted to contemporary music technology, and immersive audio production/experimentation, with a dedicated 10.2 surround audio environment and a reconfigurable speaker grid able to handle multi-channel micing, tracking, and playback options for even the most complex immersive audio projects.
These pro audio education facilities and others designed by WSDG — both in the U.S. and around the world are providing students with a powerful platform from which they can fulfill their passion for learning while embarking on a mission to solve the creative challenges of tomorrow.