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Schaum/Shieh, White Music Hall, Houston

A Concert Hall on the Bayou: White Oak Music Hall by Schaum/Shieh

The White Oak Music Hall is one of three construction projects developed by Schaum/Shieh in this location. As a main building, it functions as an anchor for the rest of the venue ensemble. On the longitudinal side, the concert house presents itself as sleek and nearly completely closed off. It comprises three cubes with shed roofs – one of which has been turned 90 degrees.

The façade is clad with white and grey horizontal cement panel siding; only in a few spots on the ground floor and as illumination for the stairway. On the ground floor, the façade on the narrow side of the ensemble turns a corner to form a roofed-in entryway. This provides access to the lobby and the adjacent concert halls. In the other direction, towards the bayou and the outdoor areas, the façade is more open and less structured. Part of it has been clad with diagonal wooden slats. Two added loggias connect the interior and exterior spaces; they also offer visitors a sheltered view of the Houston skyline. From outside, the loggias are entirely clad with polycarbonate panels, which gives them a translucent lightness.

Inside the building, the ground floor is home to the large main stage. The upper storey has a smaller hall for more intimate events. In the large hall, windows behind the stage allow a view of the sky, even during concerts.

In the cultural centre, all the spaces are multifunctional. The materials here are deliberately sober and simple: steel, wood and concrete define the surfaces. The colour aesthetic of the building is clear and structured: bright, vivid colours in the access areas guide visitors through the spaces and provide a contrast to the dark-coloured performance and technical rooms.

The White Oak Music Hall is a place of music and the spoken word. All genres, established and lesser known artists find their place on the various stages. The other two buildings on the grounds are an open-air stage and a pavilion, actually a renovated and repurposed warehouse with a unique tower, which was recently opened as the last completed part of the ensemble.

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