Alameda, California-based architecture and design firm, MBH Architects, has partnered once again with the Good Tidings Foundation to give back to the San Diego community. The longstanding duo, together with full-service contractor WL Butler, recently completed the Jason Mraz Music Studio for ARTS (A Reason to Survive), a non-profit that supports youth development through creativity and the arts.
Located within the existing ARTS Center in National City, California, the newly-renovated, 1,000-square-foot music studio will continue to serve local aspiring musicians ranging from ages eight to 24. The ARTS Center, which has long served San Diego youth, provides access to high-quality music programs through classes and workshops in instrumentation, composition, and songwriting. The new studio, sponsored by and dedicated to Jason Mraz, will grant marginalized youth a space to continue their music education and express creativity through music.
All students are welcomed by the ARTS Center’s bold and colorful logo situated above the main entrance exterior. Walking in, they are ushered through a bright, two-story lobby, into the Hall of Inspiration, which is lined with artwork depicting musical instruments, photographs, inspirational quotes, and memorabilia. The music studio is located at the end of this hallway, saturated in a color palette of bright yellows, oranges, greens, and blues that pay homage to Jason Mraz’s newly released “Look for the Good” album. A mural of Jason Mraz himself on stage, looking out over a roaring crowd, is the backdrop for the space’s main stage. Multi-colored Kartell FL/Y pendant lights are suspended over the studio, while whiteboards, yellow storage cabinets, and musical instruments line its walls. Work tables with teal stools sit on a neutral-toned Mohawk carpet design that mimics the movement of echoing soundwaves. The space also features a 3-D lighting installation spelling “ARTS,” which hangs above the studio’s piano. Adjacent to the student work tables is a fully-functioning sound booth, bound with blue foam acoustic tiles that acoustically isolate anyone performing inside.
A key requirement for the design of the music studio was flexibility, in order to accommodate small music classes of four to eight students or larger classes ranging between 15 and 20 students. In addition to classes, the area needed to be equipped to serve as a student performance space several times a year. Consequently, MBH specified furniture that could be easily moved and stowed away—the teal stools are stackable, while the tables are on casters and can nest and fold. The stage is also able to be folded and rolled away, allowing for maximum use of the whole room. To provide more acoustic buffering throughout the space, the design team incorporated light blue, stand-alone acoustic panels that can create curved walls, separating zones within the room. Likewise, these walls can be moved out of the way when more square footage is needed.