Criterion Acoustics’ deep experience designing major label studio complexes came to the forefront with Warner Music Group’s (WMG) advanced new Los Angeles facility.
The Criterion Acoustics (CA) team collaborated with the famed architecture firm Rockwell Group to help transform WMG’s new offices, set inside a former 1912 Ford Model T factory, into a dynamic musical HQ for downtown LA. Within the 240,000 sq. ft., five-story building are six CA-designed music production suites, a high-end performance space, acoustically-treated artist lounges, and multiple conference rooms complete with custom Augspurger monitors that were manufactured and integrated by Criterion Acoustics.
The WMG assignment followed CA’s successful execution of “A Studio,” a groundbreaking LA complex founded by Artists Partners Group (APG), Atlantic Records and WMG. “Warner Music is pioneering development in LA’s Arts District,” says Dave Kotch, president of Criterion Acoustics. “Labels are doing more and more music production in-house. These are beautiful suites, and they demonstrate why the term ‘writer’s room’ is going to disappear, because today’s writer’s room is a modern studio.
“Many of today’s artists don’t need a large facility to produce platinum hits,” Kotch continues. “The studios at WMG accomplish a great deal with a reduced footprint and dedicated ISO booth.”
WMG employees have an executive listening experience in the conference rooms. CA designed these multipurpose spaces to serve as high-end critical listening environments, while also accommodating full videoconferencing capabilities. The conference rooms are taken to the next level with three pairs of custom Augspurger monitors in each.
“The project specifications were for speakers that sounded great loud,” Kotch says simply. “We manufactured and integrated the speakers that George Augspurger created specifically for WMG.”
The most visible part of the project is the expansive live performance space, which CA acoustically treated to bring out the best in visiting WMG artists on the level of Lizzo and Shea Diamond that play the room. “It’s terrific to see a major label build a really cool space like this, it brings everyone together,” notes Kotch. “There’s a lot of comfortable couches, and even another level with shuffleboard— you can watch a show and play games at the same time.”
CA also oversaw sound isolation and acoustics for all offices. “You have a global record company playing loud music in a historic building,” Kotch observes. “This creates difficult conditions, especially when it comes to preserving the windows. Fortunately, Criterion Acoustics has significant experience in dealing with historic structures, so we were up to the challenge.” Architectural firm Rockefeller Kempel Architects led the building’s renovation and historical restoration.
As the latest in a series of major label recording studio complex projects, Dave Kotch understands why this type of facility is gaining momentum. “Moving music production in-house makes sense, especially with younger artists,” he says. “The studios are helping labels to develop the artist. When you develop the artist, you get better music.”