Wood Wins at the Oregon Bach Festival

The internationally acclaimed Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) now has a new home located on the University of Oregon campus.

The 10,000 square foot, two-story building, designed by Portland-based Hacker Architects, provides space for Festival program rehearsals, recitals, lectures, and receptions. The multi-purpose facility opened in June 2017 and faces 18th Avenue adjacent to the University’s School of Music and Dance (SOMD).

The name, Berwick Hall, is in honor of UO alumni Phyllis and Andrew Berwick, whose $6.5 million gift to OBF funded the largest part of the $8.7 million budget for the building’s design and construction. In addition to accommodating OBF’s administrative offices, the building will be a gathering place for OBF’s community programming and other arts organizations on campus.

“The project represents an opportunity for music and architecture to impact each other in a profound way and all aspects of the design, from the forms to the materials, have been considered from the point of view that the building itself should be perceived as an instrument,” says Corey Martin, Hacker Architects principal and design team lead for the project.

Floor Focus

One of the focal points of the project, was the 2,000 square foot, rehearsal room which serves as OBF’s dedicated rehearsal space. The venue can host events and receptions for 240 guests or seated audiences of up to 120, and it also has specially designed acoustics tuned for OBF’s repertoire.

Greenpointe Wood Floor Supply located in Clackamas, Oregon, provided Castle Bespoke plank materials for the wall paneling and flooring, which played an instrumental role in the success of this project.

“We offer completely custom wood flooring options with Castle Bespoke,” says Terry Brandsen, partner, “My brother Todd Brandsen and I started this line after years in the wood floor contracting business, and we could see how changes in construction were affecting the wood floor industry. We saw construction schedules accelerating meaning less time for acclimation and more dramatic swings in temp/humidity. We also saw the trend toward wider planks, which are historically more affected by climatic conditions; the enhanced use of concrete and gypsum type subfloor systems, meaning you can’t nail down the product; and finally a big influx of flimsy products from the big box stores. We knew there had to be a better way; which is how we created Castle Bespoke high end custom flooring”

The interior white oak walls in the rehearsal room are subtly curved to reflect the form of an instrument and the composition of the exterior uses rhythmical concepts in its design. For this project, Greenpointe custom oiled over 3,000 sq ft of 3/4″ x 8″ x 10′ long, Chateau grade white oak plank which was used as cladding on curved walls for sound control. Also, the company supplied several thousand additional square feet which was installed as flooring, and site finished by the contractor for an exact color match.

“One of the reasons Castle Bespoke was selected this project was the customizable aspect of the product. The client wanted the flooring sanded-in-place to create a totally smooth and flat surface with no edge bevels. Then they wanted the wall paneling to match the floor exactly, but this needed to be hand oiled before it was installed,” says Brandsen.

He continued, “Both from a design aspect, and also from an acoustical standpoint, we needed to pay special attention to the thickness of the product, as well as the acoustical properties of the coatings on the material. By using a penetrating molecular bonding oil, we were able to achieve both the look and acoustic requirements of the project. The walls that have Castle Bespoke wall cladding are curved and angled to help the room reflect the music in a way that is both absorbing and also complimentary to the musical instruments.”

By design, the rehearsal room captures a large volume (40’ x 48’ x 33’+) to prevent sound building up to uncomfortably loud levels and to allow music to linger with a moderately long reverberation time. Room surfaces are shaped to sustain sound while avoiding flutter (high frequency trapped between parallel surfaces) and preventing an excessive buildup of sound in the lower 7’ of the room, where the musicians and listeners will be. Some additional texturing of the walls provides more random scattering of sound, to further soften harshness. A simple, modestly curved ceiling provides clean communication within an ensemble while preventing fluttery buildup between the floor and ceiling.

Berwick Hall will grant the Festival visibility on a busy street, opportunities for community events, and a centralized hub for Festival activities. Over 10,000 people are expected to visit the space during the yearly festival, not including cross-campus and community rentals.

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