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New York, New York

Power Station

One of the last full-orchestra recording studios in New York City and an acoustical marvel. 

This legendary 33,000-square-foot building in Hell’s Kitchen is one of the last full-scale recording studios in Manhattan. Its acoustical innovation in the 1970s led to an unprecedented number of awards over the years, including the first Les Paul Lifetime Achievement Award, the recording industry’s highest honor.

The recording studio was built by Tony Bongiovi and his partner Bob Walters. Bongiovi, a producer who got his start at Detroit’s Motown Records when he was just 17, is considered an acoustical genius. By the time he started the Power Station he’d worked in some of the world’s best studios, and the Power Station quickly became a commercial success.

His oddly shaped rooms with ceilings as high as 35 feet are the basis of an acoustical design which mimics live sound. The giant Neve 8088 console (the last of its kind) allows for recording several tracks at once. The resulting natural sound attracted the likes of Bruce Springsteen, the Clash, and David Bowie, who recorded his final album at the studio. Sony and Yamaha took samples of the ambience while designing reverb products.

Its legacy continued as it recorded the Roots, the Strokes, and the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. The complex’s 2,496-square-foot Studio A, which can hold up to 65 musicians, is reportedly the only studio room in New York City big enough to accommodate a full orchestra.

The studio was put on the market in 2015, where it sat for almost two years while musicians and admirers nervously awaited its fate. But in 2017 the Berklee College of Music bought the studio with every intention of keeping it running. This is a rare move at a time when historical studios are closing at an exponential rate. As Sting, who has recorded at Power Station, noted in an email to the New York Times: “There’s nothing like a room with a history where the music seems to have been absorbed into the walls.”

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