Left section courtesy H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture

H3 DiMenna Center

On March 8, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) celebrated the opening of its new permanent home, The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and acousticians Akustiks.

Located on West 37th Street in the Hells Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood of Manhattan, the 20,000-plus-square-foot DiMenna Center shares space with the year-old Baryshnikov Arts Center in an existing building (2005), once home to two Off-Broadway theaters.

1. 450 West 37th Street, home of The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street, home of The DiMenna Center for Classical Music

In addition to serving as base of operations for OSL, the four-level facility will provide local and visiting performers with affordable, state-of-the-art rehearsal and recording space comprising two rehearsal rooms (one large for full orchestras, the other chamber-sized), two ensemble rooms, two practice rooms, a music library, a learning and media studio, visitor office space, café, two lounges — even showers.

Excellent acoustics were evident during the ribbon-cutting festivities, during which OSL and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham were the main attraction. According to H3 design principal, Hugh Hardy, every aspect of performance had to be addressed in the design so that the quality of sound is true to the ultimate experience of the concert hall.

To that end, the architects and acousticians created layers of acoustical materials within the concrete shell and around carefully constructed rehearsal “boxes” — all with sprung wood floors. And because the artists spend so much time in these rooms, Hardy and his team were extremely attentive to interior surface treatments and lighting, disguising the cacophony of technology behind the walls with richly hued textiles and/or wood ribbing, and a mix of halogen and metal halide lamps for warmth, energy efficiency, and to minimize vibrations. 

Named for Joe and Diana DiMenna for their gift and fund-raising efforts, the $37 million project is a result of the vision of former OSL co-founder Marianne Lockwood plus a carefully planned endowment campaign.

Additional donors include the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Victor Elmaleh, Virginia James, Norman S. Benzaquen, and the family of Charles Grossman. The project also received $8.5 million from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council, and Manhattan Borough President's Office.