The Center for Music Exploration

The street in New Orleans is a different place than in other cities.  It is more of a place to be than a means of conveyance.  The idea of the “street” is almost a psychological state.  It bleeds up over sidewalks and onto porches and serves as a blurred interstitial space between public and private.  And music seemed to be ever-present in this environment.

The mission of The Center for Music Exploration is to establish a place that is dedicated to teaching young people about and expressing the cultural influence of street music in New Orleans.  A corner square at the intersection of Richard St. and Magazine St. provides a public space for informal musical performances and soft entrance to the building.  Public access from two paths cuts into the building form, leading to the central, public courtyard.

Programmatically the first floor is reserved for public spaces, including a flexible theater and a gallery.  These spaces would be used for art displays, community events and concerts.  A high level of transparency ensures that the building maintains a strong physical and visual connection with the public street environment.  Located on the second floor are a local radio station and recording studios, which provide opportunities for musical instruction, professional recording and presentation of musical works.

In keeping with New Orleans architectural tradition, emphasis was placed on shading the building envelope from the sun.  Above the roof, and over the outdoor public spaces, fixed aluminum louvers provide top shading to reduce the overall impact of the hot New Orleans sun.  Vertical, cypress fins, which double as a dynamic, rhythmic element along the street, provide low-angle shading.  Behind the fins and over the sidewalk, a balcony creates a semi-private space to catch a breeze that still maintains a strong connection with the street below.

Below is a complete analysis of my design, which explores context, program, design process and final documentation in more depth.  I completed this project during my M.Arch degree at The University of Kansas.

All content © Copyright 2020 by W. Hunter Hanahan.