With the design and construction of more than 600 recording facilities and audio production suites to its credit, UK studio design consultancy White Mark Ltd has notched up many notable projects during its 21-year history. But, according to the company’s Managing Director, David Bell, The Sanctuary at Albany – a state of the art recording studio that opened last month in The Bahamas – is right up there with the best of them.
“It’s impressive – both visually and acoustically,” he says. “Just the idea of building a studio like this in today’s economic climate seemed like a brave thing to do, but when we saw what the owners were trying to achieve in terms of aesthetics, acoustic quality and location, we were blown away – and very proud to be part of such an incredible project.”
Located at Albany, a 600-acre luxury resort community on New Providence backed by Joe Lewis, golfing greats Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, and actor and musician Justin Timberlake, The Sanctuary powered by Monster Energy sits along the harbour of Albany’s mega-yacht marina, surrounded by luxury residences designed by some of the world’s most renowned architects.
Initially conceived in a conversation with Albany resident Charles Goldstuck, entrepreneur and investor, currently founder and co-chairman of Hitco Entertainment, and Christopher Anand, managing partner of Albany, the studio was designed as a place where musicians and creators can be inspired to do their best work and to give the more than dozen music professionals with homes at Albany the opportunity to both work and live within the community.
The project took four years to complete from start to finish and White Mark Ltd were involved from a very early stage, helping with equipment choices as well as studio design and acoustics alongside Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and studio director Ann Mincieli, owner of New York City’s Jungle City Studio and longtime engineer and studio coordinator for Alicia Keys.
“We chose White Mark because of their track record of working at the very highest level, attributed to their wealth of experience working worldwide,” says Goldstuck. “The relationship with Bjarke Ingels Group, our main architects, was vital and, in large part, contributed to the great synergy between the environment, structure and internal feel of the building – resulting in a wonderfully calm and inspiring creative space.”
The Sanctuary has six studios – a main control room and live room with two vocal booths, plus five smaller studios that are equipped with Pro Tools and Mac workstations. The control room is equipped with a 48-channel Solid State Logic Duality Delta console, custom Exigy monitors and a host of outboard gear including digital and many vintage pieces. The oak-panelled live room has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the yacht harbour and this, along with the two booths, have clear lines of sight into the control room. There is also the Monster Energy Green Room, equipped with a kitchen, an outdoor courtyard with a hot tub and gas grill featuring a commissioned mural painting from famed street artist Kelly “Risk” Graval, and a Moët vending machine dispensing split bottles of its champagne.
“This project was a truly special opportunity for all of us at White Mark,” David Bell says. “Starting with a “clean sheet of paper” to build on undeveloped land, working with one of the world’s very best architectural practices and having a budget available that is very rare in today’s world, combined to make the project unique. The result is a facility of which we are extremely proud. The accuracy of the control room, the incredible open and warm feel of the main live room and booths set against views that are beyond inspiring, contribute to a studio that brought together all that we have learned in our careers to date. The experience of hearing the first playing of the Steinway in the main live room will live with me for a long time. I hope that those who use the studio and take it forward feel the same, and I look forward to hearing from them as time passes.”
Although The Sanctuary is intended as a destination studio for top artists, there is also a strong link with the education community, with the five smaller studios doubling as music technology classrooms. Through partnerships with top music programs such as the Berklee School of Music, Kennesaw State University’s Joel A. Katz Music and Business Program and other institutions, The Sanctuary offers academy-style teaching programs and scholarships to local Bahamian teens through the Bahamas Youth Foundation.
About White Mark:
Established in 1997 by David Bell, John Dunnill, Derek Buckingham and Alan Cundell, White Mark Ltd specialises in production facilities for music recording and the film and television industries. Over the last 21 years it has designed and supervised the construction of over 600 production suites worldwide. The company’s impressive client list encompasses some of the world’s most famous music recording facilities including Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the UK, Germano Studios in New York, Hit Factory/Criteria Recording Studios in Miami, Strongroom in London and private studios for producers and musicians such as William Orbit and Damon Albarn. Most recently, The Sanctuary studio at Albany in The Bahamas has been opened to wide acclaim. In the area of audio post production, White Mark has completed over 180 audio studios and many broadcast and video editing facilities for more than 50 companies in Soho alone. The list of clients includes Grand Central, Hackenbacker, Envy, De Lane Lea, Scramble, Lipsync, Molinare, DeLuxe, 750mph, NBC/Universal, Wave, Unit, Soho Square and Boom. Advertising agency clients include worldwide facilities for Hogarth International and AMV/BBDO on four continents. www.whitemark.com