Power Station at BerkleeNYC, formerly known as Avatar Studios and The Power Station, officially reopened on the evening of Wednesday, October 27 with a celebration of music, art, and reflection on the historic recording facility. The event showcased a $15 million renovation to the space, including high-end video capture, professional lighting, 360 cinematic virtual reality, and spatial audio and broadcast live streaming capabilities. The event also included the unveiling of a mural honoring artists who recorded at the historic studio by local artist Mikel Glass.
Following opening remarks from BerkleeNYC executive director and dean of strategic initiatives Stephen Webber, Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), said, “With tonight’s event, Power Station at BerkleeNYC celebrates the past, present, and future of this iconic recording studio located in the heart of the creative capital of the world, the New York City theatre district. We are proud to have supported the preservation efforts of this legendary facility, forever connected to the city’s rich music history, and which now has an expanded role in preparing students to become a part of New York City’s future creative economy.”
“New York City is home to the greatest arts and culture institutions in the world and it’s a place that grows talented musicians, singers, and the visual arts. So, we are thrilled to have supported the restoration of Power Station at BerkleeNYC to help seed the next generation,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO Rachel Loeb. “Thank you to Berklee, MOME, and Pete Muller for working with us to provide the next generation of artists with a world-class facility.”
Following the unveiling of a mural featuring historically significant artists who recorded in the space, Grammy-nominated vocalist, producer, songwriter, musician, author, and actress Nona Hendryx spoke about her impression of the renovated space, saying “This place has been reborn, revitalized, transformed, which is just amazing. You cannot recreate the studios here–it’s just impossible.” Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and activist Cyndi Lauper discussed her memories of recording in the studios, saying, “To sing in the Power Station, to play in the Power Station was so huge. The kids–the youth–they need a place like this…you’ve given them a future.”
Pete Muller, a Berklee trustee who helped facilitate the landmark public-private-nonprofit partnership between the college and the city, looked back on the early ideas of Power Station at BerkleeNYC in his speech. Muller remarked, “Here we are. The magic of the studios has been preserved. The facilities are now state-of-the art. And the Master’s program that started in the fall is thriving…you can feel the energy; you can feel it here.” Larry Simpson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost for Berklee, spoke of the partnership between the city of New York and Berklee, a Boston-based institution, as highly symbolic. “We appreciate that you believed Berklee–in Boston–had something to offer New York City, where the artistry and technological sophistication could not be any higher.”
In the closing remarks for the evening, Berklee President Erica Muhl said, “By re-establishing this facility as not just a premier large-format recording destination, but also a state-of-the-art learning laboratory that allows for whole new levels of artistic, intellectual, and entrepreneurial collaboration, we have simultaneously increased our ability to nurture emerging artists and musicians, and provided access to all that New York City has to offer to the world’s best, and most talented, creatives.”
Guests toured various aspects of the world class facility as part of the celebration. At Power Station at BerkleeNYC’s Studio A, a Berklee City Music partner, the Music With A Message Band from the Renaissance Youth Center in the Bronx, recorded an original song, “Stand Up,” with platinum engineer Bob Clearmountain. Studio B showcased current students performing “Power,” a song written for the reopening event. Hendryx joined the BerkleeNYC Vocal Staxx Ensemble students to record “Transformation” with Roy Hendrickson engineering in Studio C. Attendees visited the tech lab to witness the space’s 360 cinematic virtual reality immersive music video experience using Oculus headsets, and ended their time at the space by visiting the mural and meeting with the artist.
Originally built as a Con-Ed power relay station, which provided power to Manhattan’s elevated train, the recording studios, where iconic albums were recorded with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Madonna, Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Bob Dylan, the cast of Hamilton, and more, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art recording and video production facility for the city’s music, theater, television, and film industries. This fall, Berklee welcomed the first class of graduate students to its New York campus for its Master of Arts degree program in Creative Media and Technology. Students from the program debuted the world premiere of their songs “The Sound Of the World” and “The Sound’s On Us” for the reopening event.
In 2017, Berklee, Muller, MOME, and EDC announced the historic Power Station at BerkleeNYC. BerkleeNYC, with funds from MOME and the EDC, will continue to host both free and tuition-based educational programs, performances, and resources for local musicians. The project was spearheaded by Muller, an accomplished singer-songwriter who started out busking in the New York City Subways, and a pioneer of quantitative investing. A full overview of the history, previous recordings, and on-site resources for Power Station at BerkleeNYC is available on its official website.