The hall of the school of arts transformed into a performance hall

For more than fifty years, the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) has been a crucial community center of arts education and activity in New York’s historic district.

In 2020, the school received a generous donation from the Herb Alpert Foundation and undertook an ambitious renovation to revitalize the facility’s main performance spaces and key infrastructure.

Key to the revamp was transforming its signature lobby into a versatile and flexible performance space.

Acoustical architecture consultancy and design firm Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) led the acoustic redesign of the space with a vision that emphasized versatility and ease of use.

To bring this vision to life, WSDG turned to AVN | SYS for the design and installation of audiovisual and space lighting technology.

“We thought a lot about different use-case scenarios when designing the space to provide HSA with the flexibility to showcase an extremely wide range of performance without requiring a large production support team,” said Joshua Morris, partner and COO of WSDG.

HSA’s main hall and performance space features an integrated sound system operated from a centrally located Crestron control system.

AVN | SYS used custom ceiling-mounted JBL ATX A8 line arrays for excellent coverage and B18 subwoofers for bass, giving HSA complete control over a powerful system capable of handling the largest ensemble performances or smaller.

“We designed a bespoke solution for HSA when it came to mounting the line arrays, ensuring they worked perfectly with the new acoustics of the space for any performance event,” said AVN | SYS Project Manager Steven Horwitz.

“The entire system is designed to be easily used by HSA personnel for consistent, stunning sound every time.”

In addition to installing the space’s audiovisual equipment, AVN | SYS also collaborated with lighting company Elation for custom, controllable lighting of the space, allowing HSA’s event managers to create an endless variation of moods and lighting schemes based on its myriad of performing arts programs.

“Versatile lighting scheme designs can really elevate a space and open up the possibilities for the type of events and performances that can be held there,” said AVN | PK Pandey, founder of SYS.

“We worked closely with Elation to design a custom solution for HSA that not only performed to specification, but also inspired them to reinvent what they can do in the space.”

The new performance spaces allow the organization to present performances of multiple sizes and styles without any compromise on what they want to achieve.

HSA Board Chairman Charles Hamilton expressed his appreciation for what has been accomplished and believes these improvements will have a positive effect on the next generation of artists and performers.

“The impact HSA has had on the Harlem arts community is incalculable, so to be involved in this upgrade to their facility has been an honor for us,” Pandey said.