To create an experimental musical incubator that would, as envisioned, support beginning composers of all genres and styles of music, Kevin Dolan knew he would need a space that was both “acoustically outstanding and architecturally iconic”. He found a nondescript brick box that used to house a sawdust making company. And so the National Sawdust concert hall was born.
This is a fabulous adaptive reuse project. Strategically placed and enlarged openings punched into the seamless brick facade starts the experience, playing with delightful new graffitiesque murals, bisecting them with a dark negative plane. Inside, a crystalline insertion guides one forward down a slot-canyon-like foyer towards the volume that houses the acoustically isolated chamber hall which, in of itself, is a dazzling array of angles, forms, voids, and equipment.
The design is straightforward and simple, yet executed with flair and precision by Bureau V. A great re-use of existing bones, taking full advantage of the staid and regular exterior by “removing” portions to create sculptural negative space, and to surprise and delight in contrasting the dynamic space within.
It is a workhorse, doing what it needs to without overflowing with “bonuses”. And it fulfills its duty, creating a space that is indeed iconic and expressive in a way that fully supports, enhances, and enlivens the music going experience. A night at the Dust* would be one to remember the total package, music and form.
* My term, I have no idea if anyone calls it that… though I think it would be a good name/term…