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PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: University of Rochester Music Studio

DATE: November 19, 2019

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Regional Location


Bergmann Location

Rochester, NY

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Higher Education
Audio music engineering program rettner

Source: University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster

When Bill Corbett, senior project engineer with Bergmann, approached his contacts at SWBR to inquire about partnering on MEP work, he didn’t realize his team would be embarking on one of the more unique projects of the year. Afterall, how often do you get to create a recording studio for Grammy and Emmy award-winning recording engineers?!

The University of Rochester was making a $3 million investment in converting existing classroom space into a new state-of-the-art recording studio, control room, mixing rooms and sound design lab, and needed expert architecture and engineering services to make it a reality.

The project required the project team to navigate a unique set of challenges, including:

  • Working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders, including SWBR, University of Rochester decision makers and AVL Designs Inc., who are sound design specialists, hired by the university;
  • Incorporating a large quantity of modern electrical and mechanical elements into an old and out-of-date building; and
  • Designing for soundproof-rated architecture, as well as incorporating super low noise emittance electrical equipment and lighting.

Dave Marcotte, Bergmann senior electrical design engineer, remembers the first walk-through of the space. “Upon the initial walk-through of this old university building I was very curious, as I knew it was going to have to be built to be soundproof and also required a lighting system that would suit its purposes of classroom, recording studio and mix rooms and have little to no sound emittance when operating. The numerous conduits and sound equipment back boxes that were required to house the multitude of sound system cabling all were going to require special sound sealing details as they passed through walls. Once all the team players were assembled both inside and outside of Bergmann we all worked together to achieve a great end result.”

Given the sensitivity of sound equipment, the team needed to ensure that the entire studio was soundproof. The ultimate test? Standing in the outside hallway and not hearing a live band playing from within. Not an easy feat in an old space, but one the team accomplished.

Bill Corbett will tell you that the true value of this project came from collaboration. “A successful project requires a strong team. It’s good to remember that you never have all the answers and it requires us working together with people from all areas, both within our own team, with partner firms, and with our clients, to make it a reality. This is one we can be proud of.”

The client, University of Rochester, was pleased as well, publishing a feature article about the newly renovated studio and the impact it will have for students in the Audio and Music Engineering (AME) program.