“What does beautiful lighting sound like?” That was the primary design question Jody Pritchard, principal and co-founder of San Francisco–based PritchardPeck Lighting, asked herself as she set out to illuminate a professional-quality recording studio in the Redwoods of Northern California. Designed as a retreat where the client could invite Bay Area musician friends to write and record music, the studio, a freestanding structure separate from the main house, is built inside the structural bones of a 19th-century barn that the owners found in New York and had shipped back west. Working with old timbers required a high level of coordination and on-site customization.
Adding to the challenge was the programmatic requirements of a recording studio. “The heart and soul of this project had to do with the function of the space, and they did not want the lighting to be the thing that disrupted the experience,” Pritchard says. Central to the experience are the natural surroundings, and the lighting is designed as if the studio was a spiritual gathering place. “That’s one of the reasons the ceiling is uplit,” she says. Extensive discussions with acousticians and numerous mock-ups helped to achieve a “sonically neutral” space: All of the fixture selections—a combination of halogen and LED sources—and wiring do not electromagnetically interfere with the recording equipment. The studio and control booth are wired independently from the main house, which is on a wireless system. All of which creates a quality to the space that is special. “There’s this magical moment,” Pritchard says, “when the doors are open and the sound of all the things that come with being outside become part of the music.” •
Project: Sonoma Recording Studio, Sonoma County, Calif. • Client: Withheld • Architect: Schwartz and Architecture, San Francisco • Lighting Designer: PritchardPeck Lighting, San Francisco • Project Size: 2,100 square feet • Project and Lighting Costs: Withheld • Code Compliance: California Title 24 • Watts per Square Foot: 1.57