Guilford is a town in southern Vermont that is home to only about 2,100 people. It is also the location of Guilford Sound, an energy-efficient recording studio for those who want to get away to what the proprietors call "your own private recording haven." Designed by Ted Sheridan of Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects, who is also working on an artists' residence for the campus, the studio balances sustainability, technology and tradition, resulting in a building that looks like it really belongs. The architect answered a few questions about the project.
View of the Studio Building
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
This project arose from a musical connection between the owner and architect. The owner, a professional musician and recording engineer, knew the architect, an instrument maker and musician, personally before the project was envisaged. After working on schemes for a variety of sites, the two settled on a relatively quiet, but spacious field near the owner’s residence. The opportunity to work on a sound-based project was a chance for both to explore musical and acoustical aspects of architecture that were of mutual interest.
Recording Studio Interior
Please provide an overview of the project.
As part of the Guilford Sound and Vermont Performance Lab campus in Guilford VT, the Recording Studio is used by visiting and local artists to develop musical projects and sound-art pieces. The basic forms are inspired by regional vernacular building types, but detailed in a contemporary manner. The Recording Studio’s functional requirements are achieved by separating the program into a large recording and editing space isolated from workshop, office and break spaces. Guilford Sound employs green energy solutions to offset the facility’s power use: it is the only top-tier recording studio in the United States heated by a wood-fired gasification boiler and cooled by natural rock formations beneath its foundations.
View of Studio Building
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
Situated on 300 acres of woodland, the project’s idyllic rural setting was a major influence on the design and orientation of the structure. Vermont has a rich tradition of houses with agrarian outbuildings and secondary barn structures. Ryall Porter Sheridan wished to respect the strong, simple formal tradition of these structures with the design of the studio, but build and detail the project in a contemporary manner.
View of Studio Building, kitchen and deck
To what extent did the clients and/or future users of the building influence the design and the outcome of the building?
Music is an intensely collaborative art form and the building was designed to provide comfortable, acoustically isolated spaces while at the same time keeping open visual connections between those spaces for simultaneous recording sessions. Francis Manzella, the acoustical designer on the project developed a variety of acoustical profiles for the recording rooms while Ryall Porter Sheridan designed the facility to support the intense and controlled activity of recording with the equally important casual and social activities of composing, relaxing and improvising.
Studio Kitchen Interior
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
The building is a model of energy efficiency and local energy sourcing. Heating is provided by a high-temperature wood-gasification boiler that is fueled using wood from the property – all within a 3-kilometer radius. Excess heat generated by occupants and equipment in the super-insulated studio spaces is recaptured by a heat recovery ventilator and redistributed to other parts of the building. Cooling is provided by a set of ground- source water-to-water heat pumps that take advantage of the naturally chilly ground temperature of the bedrock under the structure.
View of Studio Building with solar panels
How would you describe the architecture of Vermont and how does the building relate to it?
Vermont has a rich tradition of houses with agrarian outbuildings and secondary barn structures. The harsh winters with large amounts of snowfall demand that structures can shed the snow and stand up to the ravages of seasonal storms. The Guilford Sound studio takes on a simple form when seen from the adjacent existing farmhouse on the property, but unfolds on the opposite side to reveal a more open and complex architecture. Portions of the building were intentionally built into rock outcroppings in the field where it sits to reduce the apparent size of the structure.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.