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Conga Room | Notes of Interest

When witnessing this glittering project’s stunning visual experience, it is easy to forget that this project is primarily an answer to a very taxing acoustic challenge. This newly constructed Los Angeles Latin live music venue is the premier location for Salsa and Rumba dancing in the area, and it was crucial that the space provide the advanced sound capabilities necessary to respond accordingly for its performers and patrons. But the challenge went even further: the dance hall had to be acoustically absorptive and isolated from the rest of the office building tenants while delivering this rewarding musical experience.

The design strategy for this task interestingly enough involved a dazzling experience for the eyes. The solution was to provide a primary visual experience, floating above a sea of dancers, a ceiling that acts as a very present character and that morphs in shape throughout the space while employing acoustical isolation and prescribed sound absorption. Additionally, in an effort to meet the client’s aesthetic desires for a ceiling that reflected the vibrancy and dynamism of the Latin culture, a pattern made of diamonds was developed, inspired by the very dance step of Rumba itself!

The ceiling also boasts a state of the art LED lighting system, which required lighting analysis and optimization using various building performance software. This system gives the ceiling the ability to change color and scale based on the rhythms of the music. Each distinct area of the club can therefore provide a unique feel for the patron, an encompassing visual and acoustic progress as one moves from room to room throughout.

One last notable flourish was the installation of a twenty-foot tall lit “Tocado”— or headdress—draped from the ceiling of the primary entranceway. This captivating light display serves as a literal beacon of light, drawing attention from the plaza to the club and beckoning entrance into this ornately lit world. Patrons ascend the staircase wrapped around this glowing spectacle. Its pattern morphs into the petals and flowers, and responds to the varying conditions of program and space. From here, the ceiling structure is stretched and elongated through vestibules and agitated angles over the dance floor to heighten the reflected light and sound.

Additional Credits

  • General Contractor: Winters-Schram Associates
  • Structural Consultant: John Martin & Associate
  • Mechanical Consultant: John Dorius & Associate
  • Electrical Consultant: A & F Consulting Engineers
  • Photo Credit: © Belzberg Architects; © Benny Chan/Fotoworks

Conga Room

Jury Comments

The project successfully creates a distinct and exciting world whose design is inspired by the art form it serves.

Rigorous detailing and precise fabrication yield a unique experience, and carefully concealed lighting brings the space alive.

The exploration of dance concepts, modular shapes, acoustics and bold colorful form exhibited in this project are combined in a way that one would never expect. The innovation is full of analogy, sensuality, and technical directness that is just remarkable.

2011 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture Jury

  • John Ronan, AIA, (Chair)
  • John Ronan Architects
  • Chicago
  • Jaime Canaves, FAIA
  • Florida International University-
  • School of Architecture
  • Miami
  • Margaret Kittinger, AIA
  • Beyer Blinder Belle Architects
  • New York City
  • Brian Lewis
  • The Capital Group Companies
  • Irvine, Calif.
  • Brian Malarkey, AIA
  • Kirksey
  • Houston

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