2005  |  Piano Pavilion  |  Durham, NC

The Piano Pavilion is a 1,200-square-foot rehearsal and performance space built as an addition to the home of a Durham-based concert pianist.

Because of its specialized use, acoustical considerations are paramount to the pavilion’s design. First, the deliberately irregular geometry of the plan presents only non-parallel walls, a feature that eliminates distracting acoustic reflections. The hardened surfaces of walls and flooring create an acoustically “bright” and highly reverberant environment, well suited to the characteristic range and timbre of the piano. Several simple, low-tech accommodations have been introduced to provide flexibility to the room’s acoustic response. Large throw rugs can be unrolled in the space to simulate the dampening effect of an audience. The room can also be further “tuned” by use of an acoustical drape, pulled around the pavilion’s perimeter. This same drape helps to control sunlight entering the pavilion through its broad expanse of southern-facing glass.

Although modern in form, the design employs traditional construction materials and detailing, including vertical board and batten walls, articulated wood base, and Vermont slate flooring. The material palette is intentionally reserved, focusing the room’s emphasis on its most important element, the piano itself.