Yoko at piano outside

Stand in the living room of the Greeney family’s new hilltop home and what do you hear? Birds in the trees outside the open glass doors. Maybe soft chatter from the two Greeney children.

As hard as you might try, however, you won’t hear Jon Greeney, a percussionist with the Oregon Symphony, pounding on his thundering timpani. And from Jon’s basement rehearsal room, you can’t hear his pianist wife, Yoko, giving classical piano lessons in her studio near the front door.

That’s because soundproofing was a cornerstone in the design of this four-level modern house perched off Portland’s Northwest Skyline Boulevard.

The floor plan, construction materials and acoustic features, like sound insulators between the floors and walls, allow these musician parents to practice in separate, noise-insulated studios while their two children play, study and sleep.
It’s the ideal situation. People who work at home always hope to find a quiet, private place to concentrate and an office away from family living let’s everyone go about their day. In their previous, rented houses, Jon and the kids had to tiptoe around when Yoko was teaching.

When they were ready to build their first home, the Greeneys knew they needed rooms that didn’t transfer noise throughout the house or into the neighborhood.

And they had other design desires. They dreamed of a dwelling with a modern aesthetic that could easily open up to other interior spaces and the outdoors. And since they like to entertain and host intimate recitals and larger concerts at home, they hoped for places to seat an audience.

Being able to roll the piano from a studio into the living room would create even more possibilities for musical events.
Their home, anchored on a steep lot, delivers it all.

On Saturday, Aug. 27, supporters of the Oregon Symphony will tour the residence, take in the views and then settle into chairs in the piano studio or on the deck to see Jon and Yoko Greeney perform together.

“It couldn’t get any more personal than being in the musicians’ home as they are playing music they’ve selected for an event that will never be repeated,” says Allison Howard, a long-time volunteer with the Oregon Symphony who is organizing the ninth year of the Parties of Note home concert series.

People will come for the performance, but their first reaction to what’s called the Music Box House will not be its stellar acoustics.

From the street, you see two black-stained wood wings, separated by a two-story-high entry and living room encased in glass walls. Cutting through the space are parallel staircases with floating wood treads and black railings.

The top set of stairs leads to the roof garden, and below it, there’s a staircase to the bedrooms on the second level. During large concerts, people stand or sit in the living room area, on the stairways or in the open second floor hallway looking down on the performers.

On a recent afternoon, Jon was making lunch in the walnut-clad kitchen on one side of the main level while pointing to the covered deck on the other side. The deck can be accessed through glass doors from the living room or Yoko’s studio.

“The deck is a great place to stand when it’s raining,” says Jon, who adds that the house’s overall internal acoustic and visual appeal “offer a peaceful place for us to practice and be inspired.”

The building team included designer Rick Berry of Scott |Edwards Architecture, Otis Construction, Tobin Cooley of Listen Acoustics, Garrison Hullinger Interior Design and Shapiro Didway landscape architecture firm.

“The goal from the very beginning was to create two studios with acoustic separation from each other and the main house,” says Berry, whose Portland-based firm received three 2016 Gold Nugget Awards in the international architectural design and planning competition.

Here, concrete floors in the piano studio and other places serve as efficient sound barriers. The timpani studio, with walls of concrete on three sides, is below the garage’s concrete floor and up against the hillside.

“We wanted to create a space that did not feel like a bunker so we put two layers of triple-pane windows so Jon could view his children playing in the backyard while he practiced,” says Berry.

Isolating the sound in Yoko’s large studio, with twin Steinway grand pianos, was challenging because of the floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Triple-pane glass again solved the problem.

Both studios have double walls with full insulation. Drywall was suspended by coils and fasteners to prevent it from touching the wooden frame, which helps keep the sound from transmitting.

Each of the studios also has its own isolated air ducts to the central air system to keep sound from traveling through vents throughout the house. And both studios have very large, solid wood, acoustic doors that create an airtight seal when closed.
Once the acoustic isolation was created for the studios, the team focused on the internal acoustics to make each room “sound right,” says Jon. “We ended up using absorbers and diffusers as well as bass traps.”

A home theater below the piano studio is also acoustically separated by large doors and special insulation.
Here, the family can watch movies while one parent retreats to a studio to quietly create music.

 

Original Article

Title:  No need to say ‘turn that music down’ in a soundproof house designed for musicians

Date: August 12, 2016

Author: Janet Eastman

Publication: The Oregonian/ Oregon Live

Link: Original Article