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music incubator

architecture thesis project

Laura Taylor

Magdalena Garmaz studio


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of Architecture Degree, Auburn University


acknowledgements I would like to give thanks to my family, who supported me through these five challenging years, financially and emotionally. Without you all, I would not have had the strength to see my goals be accomplished. To the faculty within the architecture program who took the time to get to know me as a student and provide guidance to strengthen my projects and my identity of an architecture student.


table of contents 06

introduction 07 thesis statement 10 site analysis 16 fall semester 18 searching for form 26 spring semester 30 lighting studies 35 acoustical layer 40 model mockup 43 final presentation 55 conclusion



Thesis research consists of a year long discovery of the potential life downtown Montgomery has to offer. We started this process by visiting downtown Montgomery and seeing how it functions as a city. Then, we proceed to evaluate its potential and architectural needs to achieve this potential. Downtown Montgomery consists of mainly office space, parking garages, and empty buildings that expose the history of what Montgomery used to be and what it stands for. These spaces, however, do not lure the people of Montgomery to occupy its space; therefore, the city is crippled by its emptiness and lack of life beyond the 9-5 o’clock routine. With these observations, our studio studied and reinvented a site on Montgomery to accomplish all the possibilities we imagine for the city.


thesis statement

When studying the existing urban conditions of the entertainment district in downtown Montgomery, it became evident the life of the city ceases in most spaces after dark. When contemplating what a “city’s energy” means to me, my thoughts focused on the ambiance set by the music spilling into the streets when you turn corners and guides you to the next destination. Also, these ideas branched into the beautiful music presented by street performers on every street and the liveliness of a street café; which fills the street with music, laughter, and enjoyment. With these thoughts, and with the existing attractions taken into consideration, I wanted to create a space that acts as a connection to the existing entertainment points in downtown Montgomery to entice the public to participate in the continuum from Alleyway bar all the way to the river. Also, I wanted to tie in Alabama’s culture by embracing the Jazz & Blues evolution in a facility; which invites all demographics to engage, participate, and witness the new emerging musicians in the city. Lastly, I aim to create a music incubator for those emerging musicians by providing a facility; which possesses the program to nurture and encourage the musicians to continue making music and enable them to advance in their careers.



in路cu路ba路tor ([in-kyuh-bey-ter] n. 1. An apparatus in which environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, can be controlled; often used for growing bacterial cultures, hatching eggs artificially, or providing suitable conditions for a chemical or biological reaction. 2. Medicine An apparatus for maintaining an infant, especially a premature infant, in an environment of controlled temperature, humidity, and oxygen concentration. 3. A place or situation that permits or encourages the formation and development, as of new ideas: a college that was an incubator of new approaches to sociology.


My questions and discoveries started when asking what an incubator should do and what it needs. Other than the previous stated definition, an incubator should influence all who interact with it without needing to be inside of the building; therefore, making the incubator a place that is not intimidating and welcoming to all ages, classes, and races.


View towards Montgomery Riverwalk

site analysis

regional context and site View into site and towards Alleybar

The site is an existing parking lot located on the corner of Coosa St. and Tallapoosa St. On the southeastern side of the site, it is adjacent to the Alleyway which is a newly invented and very successful entertainment node consisting of bars and restaurants with luxury lofts above. This attraction brings people in for meal times and nightlife. On the northern boundary, the site is adjacent to the Biscuits Stadium. Averaging about 4500 people per game, the stadium brings a huge crowd into downtown Montgomery. So, this is a big opportunity to invite people to stay and enjoy the rest of downtown while they are visiting. View of site from the alleyway The site also lines an abandoned alleyway which is only currently used to serve as a trash alley. It connects to an existing pedestrian pattern that connects the Riverwalk tunnel to the Biscuits stadium. 10


entertainment district usage

Parking Attractions

When exploring the opportunities of this site, my main goals became: 1. Create an environment that lured a pedestrian from one node of entertainment to another by the music spilling into the street and inviting people to stay. This will create a more unified entertainment district rather than the one that exists today. 2. Create a site that lets people interact with the building without having to enter. This way, anyone will feel welcomed to the site and therefore bring the entire demographic of Montgomery together in unity. 3. Fully utilize the Riverwalk. Pedestrians expect to make it to their destination in five minutes of walking. Adding an entertainment node at this site provides another stop for the Pedestrians and will increase the amount of traffic towards the river. Currently, the Riverwalk is just a little too far to be seen as a connection to the Biscuit’s Stadium and the Alleyway. 12

Traffic Patterns Pedestrian Patterns


parking diagram

sun, wind, and parking diagrams

sun diagrams


wind diagrams














fall semester

These are some studies of how a typical occupant uses the building throughout the day. From a student’s perspective, their day is filled with learning, practice, performing and studying. Professors make lectures, teach, practice, and preform themselves. A visitor would be able to come see the attractions of downtown, stop and have a drink, watch a performance, and go home.

alley way the alley way is important because the pedestrians will experience the music incubator by passing it, and therefore inviting them to come inside. exterior stage the exterior stages is important because it allows people to experience the music performances free of charge and let the sound of the performances carry down the street. intimate auditorium the series of auditorums allow spaces for the young performers to practice, perform, and experience the talent of montgomery.

classrooms the series of classrooms allow spaces for the young performers to practice, and learn the music they want to play.



display entry this allows a space to showcase the work and achievements of all the students or participants of the incubator. It could hold many opportunities to create experiential moments for visitors of the incubator. cafe lounge this space is a small scale intimate space where small performances could be held while visitors drink coffee or have a small meal. This allows for a slightly more formal performance without losing the intimacy. offices office space for the workers of the incubator to allow them to have room for conferences and meetings.



searchingtrash formodels form Initially, my strategy was to see how these programmatic elements could surround a courtyard, making it intimate and private for the building. However, the site was too large for one singular building. This resulted in too much square footage, which could compromise the intimacy I wanted to achieve. I also did a program analysis outlining the typical size and square footage of rooms I wanted to include in my project. Doing these processes made me realize the mass of the form I was creating and decided to cut it down to take up less of the site. This also increase the space for the Music Incubator to accommodate exterior performance spaces.



This was the site layout of my first attempts in my building form. In brown, I’ve highlighted the high traffic pedestrian pattens connecting the alleyway, the stadium, and the tunnel leading to the Riverwalk. The courtyard of the incubator provides a gathering point for the pedestrian that’s conveniant as a cut through and engaging space to sit and enjoy the environment.

This was the site layout of my second attempts in my building form. In my review, I was asked to consider focusing my courtyard another direction instead at the vacant brick building adjacent to the site. By putting program on that side of the street, I did not like how it reduced the size of the courtyard and seemed to segregate the building program.

I re-evaluated my program and decreased the square footage of my building. In the studies above, I tried to create a strong urban edge on the street while still maintaining an entry into the courtyard aligned with the exit of the alleyway across the street. The bottom of the form consists of music retail, small auditorium, cafe, private apartment entry, and formal entry to the incubator. The second level consisted of the program pure to the incubator. This consists of the performance spaces, educational spaces, library and study spaces, and lounges for the students. The third level consisted of the apartments available to the professors. These professors can have residency for an educational series and have the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians.


This is my final form. I decided to use a green wall to integrate with the brick building to create an enticing view besides the vacant eyesore presently. The pink transparencies represent the vertical circulation points in the building. This building form allows for the maximization of the courtyard while still creating strong urban edge on 21 both streets.

street views

This is a concept model of my final form. In these images, you will be able to see how the pedestrian passes underneath the building, through the courtyard, and through the entryway towards the Alleyway. Also, the images in the top right display how the building could be percieved from the street and how it holds the urban edge.

through the courtyard



These diagrams explain how the users would circulate the building. The students would be using the classrooms, practice rooms, auditoriums, and display galleries. the professors would be using all those spaces plus the living quarters. Visitors to the site would be occupying the auditoriums and display galleries. All users would access the courtyard and exterior circulation equally.



spring semester

a re-evaluation of form RECORDING



To be able to achieve all the levels of layering and intimacy mentioned before, it became apparent that my building was still too large. If I kept it at this size, I would have to spend the majority of my thesis year designing fire exits and bathrooms to fit codes. This would give me much less time to focus on the special spaces and evolve them into memorable experiences. So, I decreased my building to take up a 50’ strip lining the abandoned alley. The bottom floor is only 38’ and allows the second and third floors to cantilever over. I did this in order to create a visual connection from the exit of the Alleyway bar and restaurants and pull you across the street to interact with the Music Incubator. On the bottom floor, an intimate cafe lines the alley. This way, people and music will be married in this space and this excitement will be seen from the exit of the Alleyway bar. This experience will energize and rejuvenate the atmosphere by not only connecting this nodes by sites but also by creating a series of “movements” to the pedestrian, much like “movements” in music.






The program diagram outlines the different spaces of the Music Incubator. A visitor would typically enter the building and circulate through the central spine. The central staircase is lined with practice rooms to provide a vital, small scale practice space for the community. These rooms are important for upcoming musical artists of Montgomery because it provides them with an opportunity to practice their music despite them not having the resources themselves. The green spaces are reception areas available to host banquets. This will provide a formal place for music performances but also activate these spaces when music isn’t being played. Also, this is another way to provide an income to keep the music incubator running. Aside from ticket sales during formal events and a small recording fee, the Music Incubator is a free use facility. The recording wing, indicated in dark red, is a series of recording studios. These studios are also flexible and able to be transformed into more practice spaces or administrative offices. The street cafe & bar is indicated in brown. Facing the alley, the cafe pulls you off the alley and invites you to enter. Also, the cafe is 3.5’ lower than the alley, so the space creates an “occupants can see you before you see them” effect. Also, it becomes an exterior room blurring the line between interior and exterior. The red spaces show the juxtaposed performance spaces. The interior small scale space is meet to be a glowing, floating box mimicking the layers of the music being played. The large scale exterior space is oriented to face the open site and Coosa St. This way, large groups and festivals can be accommodated with the temporary closing of Coosa St.












This diagram shows the hierarchy of the performance spaces inside of the Music Incubator and their different characteristic. This also shows all the possibilities of music the Incubator has. With all of these spaces, varying in size and setting, music will echo throughout the Incubator and create an ambiance similar to Rome’s street. The fading sound of one musician to the growing volume of another carries you throughout the building and throughout the site.


This diagram shows the circulation of a user inside of the Incubator. Above, you can see how a visitor may be lingering in the alleyway and linger into the cafe and move throughout the Incubator. Below, you can see how the exterior performance space can not only accommodate large groups but also just be used to bring pedestrians coming from the biscuit’s stadium into the building.


lighting studies acoustic and screen transformation


After we decided on the form of our building, we spent most of the spring semester doing light studies. First, we did a series of light boxes that depicted the lighting system we wanted to achieve. Then, we studied how that system would manipulate the natural light entering the building. We were fortunate enough to work with the president of LAM Architects, and we got feedback to add or reevaluate to our existing lighting scheme.


Before we started our cube studies, I did two studies to explore the main concepts I wanted to achieve. I wanted a facade that played with opacity and transparency. This would mimik the weaving of layers. I want the occupants of the Incubator to feel like they’re moving in and out of the layers of music.

I wanted to create a system that interacted with movement around the Incubator. So, in my studies, I places two patterns next to one another and as you pass the Incubator the facade changes. Both of the panels were fixed and let the movement activate the interaction. I enjoyed both of these cubes the most, and wanted to create a way to intertwine them. The scale of the lower set was more fitting for the Music Incubator.

Also, the screen would be placed on the glazing of the interior performance space because the facade is facing south. I want the Incubator to be glazed to avoid separating visitors from the city because the Incubator is about music in Montgomery.



acoustical layer

In order to provie the necessary acoustics for the performance space, there needed to be an acoustical layer to protect the glazing. This is another way to create a interactive layer for the occupants. So, after the screen studies, I started ot try to figure out how to marry the acoustical wall with the screening system.



This is the panel I decided to go with. It was a series of cork panels that moved in and out to create a texture. This wall would be a series of undulating bands that surround the incubator and create a corridor for drinks and circulation. These panels would be able to act as seating and tables. There are some perforations of the wall to allow natural light from the screen to come into the space without compromising the music being played inside.

This acoustical wall also would be able to act as storage for the space. Some of the panels would be removable to be able to store items that are used for thisspace.



These are some trash models to showcase how I want these layers to interact. These two images show how the acoustical wall would energize the space at night. These images show the light from the performance space leaking into the corridor and lighting up the space. The lower image shows how the exterior of the Incubator will glow and display the activities going on inside.

So, these two layers can interact together to create a space for the occupants to linger and enjoy the energy . I imagine this cooridor being filled with music and tables. Here people would be able to sit and have a drink and look over the city or into the Alleyway bar. This visual connection further marries these two sites. While circulating, the visitor can weave in and out of the acoustical wall and performance space create a blurred line between the two.



model mockup

This is a mockup that we did to show our systems in a large scale. This model is showing the interior performance space and the corridor. We used these models to show how natural light would enter into the space. The model is built at 3/4” = 1’-0”



final presentation

final design files



section cut 1 section cut 2

site plan


site sections


floor plans




building sections


Kelly Wilson





Lighting Models


final conclusion




As this project nears completion, there are several aspects that are just beginning to bloom. The building has succeeded, in my opinion, the intimacy the Music Incubator needed. These spaces provide an inviting environment to appeal to the entire Montgomery demographic. The screening layer was successful in portraying the delicacy and complexity of music and letting the visitors circulate between those layers. However, the site plan’s potential is just being discovered in it’s ability to feel like a piazza. As thesis ends, I have realized how the constant reevaluation can lead you to new discoveries. I have always been timid about re-evaluating a prior decision in fear of developing multiple dead-ends. But I have discovered these reflections lead me to achieve the design I truly desire instead of settling for the first one I come across.




Laura Daniel (Taylor) - 2012 Thesis Book  

This is a further exploration and explanation of my thesis project, The Jazz & Blues Music Incubator.