Newsam Construction and MXMA Architecture & Design have announced the rebirth of the former RCA Victor Studio in the St-Henri district, in Montreal. La Hacienda Creative, a leading Canadian sound creation studio, becomes the new tenant of the emblematic 5,000 sq. ft. (465 m²) space. In breathing new life into the building, Paul Schapira, head of Newsam Construction, and Maxime Moreau, founding architect of MXMA Architecture & Design, have succeeded in paying homage to its historic past, while envisioning a vibrant future.
After years of neglect, recapturing the historic essence of the space would prove to be a formidable challenge, particularly given its proximity to a major highway. The intervention of architect Maxime Moreau was urgent.
The process begins with understanding who the client is and where their vision is headed. Maxime Moreau believes that a shared vision between the architect and the client is the catalyst for developing more creative solutions that transcend traditional architecture. From the outset, the strategy was to provide the client with design reference points and ideas, enabling the client to participate in the creative process and to reinforce it. La Hacienda Creative wanted to develop a hub of creativity, while instilling a sense of community that would be reflected in the built environment.
Once the plans were drawn up, MXMA and Newsam tackled the technical challenges of the project, as well as the materials, construction processes and design elements. Alexandre Beaulieu was also fully invested in achieving the common goal. While Newsam focused on the construction and technical challenges of the site, the collaborative process between the parties continued on all levels.
In order to stay within budget when selecting materials, Maxime Moreau decided to retain as much of the building’s existing concrete flooring as possible, which had previously been covered with linoleum tiles. Varnished chipboard panels cover the bleachers and stairs, evoking the complexity of wood instruments. Several of the old RCA recording studio doors were recovered as a design statement, while modern architectural solutions were applied to revamping the Victor Room, the building’s original studio. In addition to new acoustic walls, floors and ceilings, each room was designed to contain sound and to insulate other tenants of the building against it. Additionally, the shape, textures and finishes of the control room were completely redone.
“We brought expertise in soundproofing to this project, as well as notions of intimacy,” notes Maxime Moreau. “We are experienced in condo construction, so the idea of building small boxes within a large box, while designing acoustically independent parts, is one of our strengths.”
That expertise was also applied to the construction of La Hacienda’s ceilings, using springs to absorb vibration, and in the design of air-conditioning and heating systems that are extremely discreet and quiet. Despite an abundance of concrete beams and low ceilings, Newsam and MXMA overcame the buildings technical challenges in order to provide La Hacienda with a truly unique sound studio.