Boston University’s public broadcast station, WBUR, has a remarkable new performance venue. Proudly located along, what was once dubbed as “Boston’s Automobile Row,” CitySpace is transforming the way we consume radio, partake in conversation, and engage with our community. In a building that was once a historic Winton Six automobile showroom, Cambridge Seven Associates designed a space that broadens WBUR’s reach while simultaneously inviting the community in. Acentech provided acoustics, audiovisual, and noise & vibration consulting for the 8,700 SF space.
The design of CitySpace revolves around the large recording studio situated at the front of the building. Interviews, panel discussions, talks, and musical presentations occur in this flexible space for live radio broadcast, recording, live audiences, or any combination. The focal point of the design is the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glass windows that allow onlookers to engage with performances from the sidewalk outside the building. While the large windows are a visually compelling design choice, the acoustical ramifications of being fifteen feet away from subway and traffic noise are enormous. Acentech’s acoustics and noise & vibration consultants recommended a floating slab floor and a massive dual-glazed window assembly to ensure no ambulance siren, car horn, or subway whistle would penetrate the glass walls. Now when an ambulance races down Comm Ave, the audience won’t be disturbed by it, allowing them to become engrossed with the performance at hand.
Since CitySpace hosts a diverse array of programs, the audiovisual systems were designed to have a large degree of flexibility in how and where they are set up in order to most effectively reinforce sound. The space features a 16’ x 9’ LED video wall to display both digital media and a live video feed during performances. Acentech’s audiovisual consultants also placed speakers on the exterior of the building to bring the inside out and the outside in. The space includes a permanent front of house mix location for live sound and a separate AV control room integrated with WBUR’s existing broadcast systems. The Lobby included digital signage at the box office. A production communications system connects staff with the backstage areas. CitySpace will continue to bring the community together through conversation, music, and art for decades to come.