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Designing the Interior

Architect Deborah Epstein

The interior finishes of the Hall embrace the cultural and natural legacies of the site, both stylistically and materially. This is because nature is dominant and inspiring here in Rockport.  It is also because the finishes will be seen as frames of views of the seascape.

Functionally, there are parts of the building that require faceted hard surfaces for acoustic reasons (the Concert Hall). And there are parts of the building that require soft absorptive surfaces (the hallways), again for acoustic reasons. These drove the design of the interior enormously, and yet, we'd like these functions to be transparent.

In the Concert Hall, for acoustic reasons, virtually every surface has to be hard and faceted, or porous enough to allow the sound to get to the hard, faceted surfaces. We don't want to absorb the sound, but to reflect and maintain its energy, to give the hall a warm and embracing feeling. Hence, we have used a great deal of wood, which is both resonant, acoustically, and warm, visually.

The woods in the hall are Douglas Fir and american Walnut. Douglas Fir is the specie of the timber frame. It offers structural strength and is a traditional material for timber frames because it is a plentiful, renewable resource. The beams are glue-laminated timbers, which are stable layers of smaller pieces of wood; thus they don't require the use of old-growth wood. The Douglas Fir will be stained to help unify the space, add warmth, and be consonant with the american Walnut.

The Douglas Fir and american Walnut carry through to the millwork in the building. There are several millwork features in the hall, most notably the stage shutters and the balcony rails. This millwork has what I call "implied curves," because while all the pieces that the carpenter will cut are rectangular, the manner in which the wood gets put together recalls the gentle curves both of traditional architecture and the seascape in a contemporary idiom.

Behind the stage, and flanking the large window, will be shutters that can roll in front of the window to cover a view or light condition that would be otherwise be distracting. The 18' tall x 30' wide set of shutters are made of Douglas Fir woven over steel rods. The pattern gets tighter, both vertically and horizontally as we go from floor to ceiling, creating a sort of abstract architectural seascape. When light comes through, it creates a scalloped, ripple effect, like water. When the shutter is lit from the front, the shadow pattern has a similar ripple effect. The shutters provide a calm place to rest one’s eyes without competing with the music.

The balcony rail has a simplified woven ripple theme. Here, for acoustic reasons, it must be as open as possible, to let sound through. Again, the woven surfaces create a non-parallel surface that will diffuse sound energy and create warm overtones to the music and avoid distracting echoes.

The walls of the first floor loges will be clad in stone whose texture and color recall the stone of Rockport visible on the horizon beyond the stage window. At the same time, the stone is beneficial to the acoustics, enhancing diffusion and providing mass that lengthens reverberation.

The Ticket Desk in the Lobby presents a preview of the walnut and stone of the Concert Hall. The compact, sculptural piece includes workstations, ticket sales, retail, and seating.

Colors throughout the building refer to those we have seen in nature on Cape Ann. These colors, though not strictly Victorian, have the strong but gray quality of Victorian colors.

Color, texture, and materials have deep associations for all of us. We have worked to create a palette that is based in common experience related to this place, from the tin ceiling of the Lobby, to the ochre, greens, and browns of the Concert Hall, to the bleached, sunny experience of the Reception Room.