The epitome of hip elegance and acoustical excellence, Jungle City Studios signify the dawn of the ‘Retro Future/Future Retro’ era. The $6 million + complex also re-calibrates the benchmark for destination studio design. Crowning a new luxury office building at 520 West 27th Street in NYC’s chill High Line district, Jungle City morphed 4800 square feet of raw real estate into a showplace duplex with soaring ceilings, a 370 square foot terrace, a 2400 square foot rooftop deck, and river views.
Studio founder/engineer Ann Mincieli has invested ten+ years’ experience as Alicia Keys’ engineer/album coordinator/studio director, and work with artists ranging from Coldplay to Usher and Jay-Z, to re-invent the destination studio. The 10th floor features two autonomous audio production suites (Icon and Euphonix), each with individual iso booths and private lounges, dedicated to providing clients with cusp-point technology. Extensive north and south-facing windows provide each suite with the rare opportunity to work in natural daylight (not common for New York City).
“Ann scoured the city for the ultimate location for her studio,” says WSDG principal/ architect/acoustician, John Storyk. “The High Line is alive with new art galleries, terrific restaurants and the iconic elevated, Urban State Park. The soon-to-be completed world-class Hotel Americano directly adjoining the studio will be an added inducement to international artists seeking deluxe accommodations during their recording projects.”
Beyond her personal commitment to creating a world-class recording studio, Ann Mincieli is dedicated to re-establishing NYC as a destination point for major artists. “The past few years have witnessed a huge shift in our city’s recording community,” she says. “Major studios like Sony and The Hit Factory closed their doors. Not because they weren’t busy, but to take advantage of windfall real estate profits. Many of the remaining studios have begun to show the wear and tear of twenty+ years of constant use. Simultaneously we saw the impact of laptop recording and mixing and, the escalating construction of small, powerful ‘vest pocket’ studios. Many top engineer/producers are, confident that they can recreate high-quality sound in their basements, attics or garages. They know they can find larger studios for live sessions in the city, and that they can overdub tracks in their own small iso booths. But those studios are simply incapable of reproducing the audio quality or creative vibe of a full-up, fully staffed, high end studio.”
Featuring panoramic cityscape views, 14’ ceilings, innovative, perforated American cherry absorbing diffusers; unique acoustic ceiling treatments (which also serve as low-frequency absorption); and programmable color LED mood lighting, the 1400 square foot 11th floor control/live room & glass enclosed iso booth is a creative island in the sky.
Two separate consoles in the Studio A Control Room exemplify Mincieli’s “Retro Future/Future Retro” philosophy. An SSL Duality SE 48 input analog console with total recall represents the ultimate state-of-the-art digital audio production tool. A rare EMI TGI 12345 Mark 3, circa 1968, identical to the desk used to record the early Beatle’s hits at Abbey Road has been rebuilt from the ground up to serve as the ultimate outboard processor. Mincieli completely restored the, vintage board, to provide a rich,‘60’s era warmth and depth to an entirely new generation of music created at Jungle City.
To maximize the impact of the studios’ expansive North and South picture windows, we floated the custom Augspurger Dual 15 Vertical main speakers in an outsized glass speaker baffle. This is only the second time we have done this, creating a kind of transparent “wall of sound” between the live and control rooms. This provides artists and engineers with the creative advantage of full visual connectivity plus, NYC’s ultimate eye candy, views ranging from The Empire State Building to the Hudson River. The audio sound field is extremely accurate throughout the full frequency range, particularly at the critical low end, necessary for many of Mincieli’s demanding urban music clients.
The challenge of creating the signature 11th floor live studio/control room directly above the two 10th floor production suites in a newly constructed lightweight, concrete building presented complex isolation challenges, Extensive analysis, both for the loading capacities of the slab and the isolation boundary detailing; resulted in STC values in excess of 90 (quite high for studios). Spring and rubber isolation elements from Europe were used in this project.
WSDG project manager, Joshua Morris; systems designer Judy Elliot-Brown and studio builder Chris Harmaty of Technical Structures all fully embraced the complexity, and scope of this project. WSDG partner/interior designer, Beth Walters worked closely with Ann Mincieli to select and coordinate all the fabrics, colors and special touches which fully realized Ann’s dream of making Jungle City a significant addition to NY’s recording industry. WSDG is immensely proud to have participated in this unique project. It marks so special a moment for NY’s professional recording community, that it was featured in the New York Times.
“Jungle City is one of the first major projects in our office to take advantage of the Revit 3D modeling program,” reports Joshua Morris. “Revit enabled us to maximize the design by analyzing the relationships between the 10th and 11th floors. The program helped us to capitalize on adjacencies, particularly in terms of critical isolation. It also facilitated the elimination of an existing interior staircase which enabled us to capture a critical 120 square foot space which we transformed into a second 10th floor lounge to permit both suites to operate autonomously.”
Following the completion of construction, Mincieli worked closely with leading mastering engineer David Kutch and WSDG partner/European office GM Dirk Noy to precisely “tune” all three Jungle City studios as the final step in insuring audio monitor accuracy in all of the critical listening environments.
Everyone associated with Jungle City’s design and construction contributed an astonishing level of effort and attention to detail,” Mincieli concludes. “My dream was to create a luxurious, technically impeccable, 21st Century haven for first tier artists, producers and engineers. By crafting an ideal creative atmosphere and providing every conceivable tool to support their pursuit of excellence, we hope to make a real contribution to the art of music recording. And, to help establish New York City as Music Capital of The World.”
Photos by Cheryl Fleming Photography, NYC