Music Academy Of The West – Hahn Hall

Montecito, CA


The Music Academy of the West enjoys a reputation as one of the most prestigious summer choral and musical programs for performance in the country, so it is only fitting that the renovation of its recital hall be as impressive in design.

The existing 350-seat recital hall was inadequate in terms of acoustics, sight lines, performer spaces, lobby, restroom facilities and access compliance. The biggest challenge was to reconfigure the space within the existing building footprint.

The design team worked in conjunction with McKay Conant Hoover to add numerous acoustical refinements including custom designed recital screens, variable acoustics, and selection of interior finishes to provide the best acoustics throughout the hall. The team also focused on reducing noise from both inside and outside the hall including the mechanical and plumbing units and the nearby train tracks. The renovation design for the auditorium provides a sloped floor for enhancing sight lines and addressing issues of fire/life/safety and accessibility to the seats and stage.

A highly detailed ceiling was designed and cast using GRG panels, lit from above, and this same patterning is reflected in the orchestra shell. Rich material choices combined with a warm and inviting color palette give the auditorium a sense of lightness that performers and visitors are sure to appreciate. The same attention to detail was applied to the lobby, which was reconfigured to be more open and welcoming to guests. Studios in the basement were renovated to provide better acoustics and finishes, and dressing rooms were added for use by the performers. A new restroom annex rounds out the renovation to provide visitors with better facilities.

19six Architects helped The Music Academy with discussions with the neighbors and the Planning Department. 19six also worked extensively with the historian to ensure that the additions and restoration of the front façade were congruent with the historic character of the building. Altogether, the new design is more cohesive and will give Music Academy’s students the performance space they warrant.

The Music Academy, 19six and the general contractor worked as a team throughout the design phase to maximize cost effectiveness and ease of construction. 19six issued long lead bid packages for critical path components to facilitate completing the renovation within ten months.


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