Strathmore Hall

Location: Bethesda, Md
Client: Clark Construction Group
Architect: AA Architects

The Music Center at Strathmore Hall could hardly have been a more visible project. It has been the subject of controversy since long before its construction started. It is impossible to argue, however, that the finished product is anything less than spectacular.

Envisioned by its designers as a world-class performance space, the concert hall presented the craft professionals that built it with unique and extraordinary challenges. The overall design of the hall is described as a traditional “shoebox” shape, which enhances the acoustic performance of the space. It is difficult to understand the shoebox description, however, since there are no flat, square surfaces in the hall at all.

As a drywall and acoustical contractor, Manganaro’s work was, perhaps, the most critical to realizing the vision of an acoustically balanced performance space. Our engineers, in conjunction with the Acoustician, Kirkegaard and Associates, designed the undulating acoustical ceiling utilizing a dizzying variety of materials. It is truly a one-of-a-kind ceiling.

Installation of the ceiling was extremely difficult. Working on scaffolding many stories in the air, our mechanics installed hundreds of acoustical isolation hangers to support the structure that carried the combination of perforated metal panels, solid honeycomb panels, acoustical insulation, and, of course, drywall. Layout was critical to the success of the installation. Utilizing extensive CAD drawings, multiple benchmarks and control lines, and an extraordinary amount of survey time, our team, along with the general contractor and other subcontractors, was able to realize the design vision for the complicated ceiling.

Coordination with the other trades involved in the ceiling construction was an additional challenge. The ceiling penetrations included acoustically isolated HVAC diffusers and grilles, fire sprinklers, lighting and supports for adjustable, acoustical “clouds”.

The Promenade and building lobbies also boast impressive and complex installations of plaster, fiberglass reinforced gypsum, metal panels, fabric wall panels, concealed spline acoustical ceilings, and drywall with extensive reveals.

Adding to the drama of completing a complicated project on time was the occurrence of three small fires in the building just 4 months before the scheduled date for substantial completion. While the fires were relatively small, damage from smoke and the water used by the fire department to extinguish the fires had a significant impact on the installed drywall in the building. Working together with the general contractor and other subcontractors, Manganaro’s team repaired and replaced a large area of installed work without delaying the first performance.

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