Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) has revealed its latest project – a recording studio located 22 feet below street level in the sub-basement of Matt MacPhail and his wife Ann Lyles MacPhail’s home.
The facility, designed to service the couple’s thriving audio production business News At Eleven Productions, is called Undisclosed Location Studios, a tongue-in-cheek reference to its convenient proximity to the political power centres of downtown DC and the Pentagon.
The MacPhails have been producing music and voiceovers for nearly twenty years, for clients such as IBM, Boeing, MasterCard, and Bank of the West. Having done this work in a variety of quirky, makeshift home recording spaces, the MacPhails knew their growing client base required a dedicated studio.
“We had problems with sound leakage and ventilation in our old studios,” explained Matt MacPhail. “And, clients always had to step over our kids’ toys and through our messy kitchen when they came to work with us. We really wanted to do it right, and that meant bringing in an absolute pro this time around.
“I had a great initial conversation with WSDG founding partner John Storyk, and even sat in on a lecture he presented to American University audio production students here in DC. When we were ready to build, we were confident WSDG would develop the best possible design.”
“They wanted to be sure that their studio did not disturb their neighbours in any way, and that their new home would blend in with the style of the neighbourhood,” remarked WSDG project engineer Matthew Ballos. “With these considerations in mind, we decided that putting the studio in a sub-basement was the best way to provide the acoustic isolation they wanted.
“The 1300 sq. ft. main studios feature a spacious 245 sq. ft. control room and three isolation booths to meet the varied music, voiceover and post-production requirements for the MacPhails and their clients,” Ballos added. “We developed a custom ceiling cloud for the control room to fine tune the ‘sweet spot’ and contribute an aesthetic finishing touch. We even built a separate entrance at the side of the house that leads directly to the studio, so clients never have to go through the residential part of their home.”
Just upstairs from the studio is the MacPhails’ home theatre, which doubles as a screening room for client projects. Designed and equipped by WSDG, the theatre is outfitted with a 114-inch Stewart front projection screen and a full compliment of top-flight gear.
WSDG’s Judy Elliott-Brown, who designed the facility’s systems integration, developed electronic connectivity between the theatre and the studio’s control room, making it perfect for professional applications such as recording narration and ADR, and for presenting 7.1 surround mixes to clients.
The dual-use theme continues in the MacPhails’ living room. The acoustically treated space features a Steinway Model O grand piano, a 22-foot cathedral ceiling, and a NanaWall sliding glass partition to provide isolation from the adjacent kitchen. WSDG also installed a full complement of microphone, line-level and data tie lines to the main studio, allowing the MacPhails to use the space as both a living room and a live room. “The acoustics are amazing,” said Ann Lyles MacPhail. “Now, we can blend the personal and professional sides of our home, but only when we really want to.”
“WSDG created an extraordinary studio for us,” Matt MacPhail concluded. “The sound, the look and the feel of our new studio far exceed our initial hopes. Having rooms like these not only puts our clients at ease; it enhances our professionalism and inspires our creativity.”
Photo Credit: Cheryl Fleming Photography