Architect & Acoustician: JOHN STORYK

Interview by Tricia Williamson

John Storyk, registered architect and acoustician, is a founding partner of WSDG. He has provided design and construction supervision services for the professional audio and video recording community since the 1969 design of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Beyond an architect, Storyk is many things, he is a musician, art lover, history buff, pilot, passionate scuba diver, dedicated father and husband and loyal friend to many.

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PANACHE: We saw an interview where you shared that you once saw an Ad in the East Village’s The Other, “WANTED: Carpenters to work for free on an experimental nightclub.” …Why was it important for you in deciding to do that project also request that you also redesign the club (Cerebrum)?

John Storyk: The interview story is correct. Try to imagine being 22 years old in the summer of ’68. The events that happened that evening in Greenwich Village were quite spontaneous. The project the ad referenced appeared to be fun; I loved theater, and this cub appeared to be a type of theatrical experience. When I finally saw the design the two owners were proposing it just seemed like I should make some changes to it, which I did – the rest is history as they say.

PANACHE: In what way did that project change your life or open doors for you?

JS: The club opened – and within months it was already very well known. It had made the cover of Life Magazine. Jimi Hendrix went to the club one night and had made the decision to open his own open club by purchasing The Generation — which was located in the basement of the 8th street cinema. The club had been a well-known blues club in the area for the past few years. The irony is that I used to go visit that club a few years earlier to listen to blues artists. I was in a blues band in college as a student at Princeton. Even more ironic is that it was the basement of the cinema designed by one of my all-time architect idols – Fredrick Kiesler. A perfect storm of serendipity striking.

PANACHE: What was it like designing for a legend like Jimi Hendrix?

JS: A bit surreal. I believe Jimi had a few different personalities, but I mostly saw the quiet and almost shy Jimi. Most of the time I spent working on the studio was with his engineer and producer, Eddie Kramer, who became a lifelong friend. Jimi’s input was always special. He did not read architectural drawings very well but had a very definite idea of what he wanted the club to feel like. The club eventually became Electric Lady Studios. Jimi worked on emotions, and it was very special to be with him. All of this happened to me before the age of 24 and by the time Electric Lady Studios opened in the summer of 1970, I already had four more studios to design. Career tip: make your first project famous. For me, it certainly changed my life!

JungleCityStudios
The epitome of hip elegance and acoustical excellence, Jungle City Studios signify the dawn of the ‘Retro Future/Future Retro’ era. The $6 million + complex also re-calibrates the benchmark for destination studio design. Crowning a new luxury office building at 520 West 27th Street in NYC’s chill High Line district, Jungle City morphed 4800 square feet of raw real estate into a showplace duplex with soaring ceilings, a 370 square foot terrace, a 2400 square foot rooftop deck, and river views. Photo courtesy: WSDG

PANACHE: What has been key to your success over the years?


JS: This is a tough question. I believe that I was very fortunate to at an early age discover a way to unite “working”, meaning earning a living, and my artistic loves. Most days, I wake up and simply do not see a difference between “working” and “not working”. This life is one ride – and it has been a very special one that has taken me all around the world, allowing me to meet amazing people. Most of all, it has reinforced my belief in love and art as the most powerful forces in our lives.

PANACHE: In your words, what is WSDG?

JS: Of course this is an acronym for our company – Walters-Storyk Design Group. The ‘Walters’ is Beth Walters, my wife and partner. But it is more than a company, it is a family. My students have become interns, they have become associates, and are now my partners. We have nearly 60 people in multiple offices and locations worldwide. All of them are passionate about our work and passionate about treating our team and our partners (clients) as family. I would never want this spirit to change.

Berklee
Berklee College of Music opened the doors to its 160 Massachusetts Avenue, residence tower in January 2014. The building now features one of the largest, most progressive, and versatile professional audio teaching/production/performance complexes in the U.S. Over three years and $100 million have been invested in the development and construction of this cusp point educational compound. Situated over four dedicated floors in a striking, sixteen-story, 155,000 sq. ft. William Rawn Associates building, the ten-studio Walters-Storyk Design Group – designed, audio education component represents a pinnacle of contemporary studio planning. | Photo courtesy: WSDG

PANACHE: What do you envision for the future of studio design in the next decade?

JS: Studios will continue to exist. The fact is that there are more studios than ever before. What is happening now and will continue to happen is a changing business model, a changing technology model, and a more democratic spread of studio locations. Basically, all artists will someday have his or her own studios. These are exciting times particularly for studio design, with the arrival of fantastic computer-assisted modeling software and more and more manufacturers entering the prefabricated acoustic treatment business.

PANACHE: What is your approach when it comes to taking a decision to do a project- what are the key elements or steps in that process of designing and building a world-class studio?

JS: Again, this is a tough question. There are lots of factors. We have a somewhat complex “internal rating system” which includes obvious categories such as the potential benefits to the business, but there are also non-business categories we consider such as the PR value, learning coefficient, location, client friendliness, and other factors. We are very fortunate right now – quite busy, but always excited to meet a new client. And we are always eager to take on a new project. Clients become our partners and hopefully our friends.

DreamAsylum
DREAM ASYLUM: One of the contemporary music scene’s most prolific hit producers, Nate ‘Danja’ Hills and partner Marcella Araica have added a cutting edge, Walters-Storyk Design Group recording studio to their N.A.R.S. (New Age Rock Stars) label. Recognized for their work with artists ranging from Britney Spears and Madonna to Justin Timberlake Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z, Danja and Araica now have the luxury of working in a studio ideally suited to their creative needs. |Photos courtesy of WSDG

PANACHE: With thousands of facilities under your belt, can you describe three (3) that stand out to you and why?

JS: My usual answer for this is “..my favorite studio is the one I am working on…” Obviously, it all starts with Electric Lady, on which we must have done something correctly since it in its 50th year is still considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious studios. Another of my favorites is Jungle City Studios in New York City which we did for Annie Mincielli. The multi-studio complex for Berklee College of Music, Boston, where I also teach, would certainly also be on this list. Paul Epworth’s church Studios in London…… and so on.

PANACHE: 100 years from now what will be the WSDG legacy that stands the test of time?

JS: Hopefully we will still be here with our core beliefs – doing great work – doing honest work – continuing to learn – and continuing to have our family values. During the past three years, Beth and I have distributed over 50% of the company to our team – these are exciting times. It is their turn now.

ElectricLady
At age 45 and counting, Electric Lady is one of the world’s first artist owned recording studios and one of the oldest, most famous and most successful studios ever. WSDG co-founder John Storyk was a 22-year-old fledgling architect fresh out of Princeton University when he was hired to design a studio for Jimi Hendrix. One summer evening in 1968, Storyk was enjoying an ice cream cone and leafing through the Village Voice when a classified ad caught his eye: “Carpenters wanted to work for free on experimental nightclub.” Dialing the number from a corner pay phone, he got the gig. | Photo courtesy: WSDG

Sonasterio: Mountaintop Masterpiece

Inside Sonastério, Brazil’s First World-Class, Destination Recording Facility

Global architectural acoustic consulting firm WSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group) designed Brazil’s first world-class, destination recording studio. A 30-minute drive from Belo Horizonte, the luxurious home is a collaboration between famed Brazilian architect João Diniz and WSDG, for musician/engineer Bruno Barros.

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Photos courtesy of S+WSDG

Perched atop a scenic bluff overlooking the pristine Minas Gerais mountain range the modernistic glass and concrete 8,000 square foot structure is meticulously well appointed and features a 1,500 square foot world-class recording studio with 20′ high ceilings. Acoustic consultant/studio designer WSDG was engaged during the earliest phases of the project to ensure a seamless integration of the recording studio component — a key requirement of Mr. Barros from the beginning.

“It is hard to imagine a more conducive environment to inspire creativity,” commented WSDG Partner/Director of Design Renato Cipriano.” Superb acoustics begin with geometry — we worked hand in glove with the architect to ensure that every square foot was precisely calibrated. The high comfort level set the stage for an extraordinary recording experience. The 750 sq. ft. live room is distinguished by a 20’ ceiling height, an 80 sq. ft. Iso booth, panoramic mountain views, custom ceiling clouds outfitted with a pro lighting grid to facilitate video shoots, and a striking ‘Sunburst’ studio logo hand painted over an acoustical broadband wall treatment.”

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In addition to the recording studio, the showcase home features three guest bedrooms, five-star amenities, abundant natural light and drop-dead gorgeous views from both indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Sonastério Studios is a work of art in itself,” concludes Bruno Barros. “More than just a recording studio, Sonastério is a house of creation designed to enhance the natural expressiveness of each artist.

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Grand Palladium Jamaica: A Great Experience Awaits

By Courtney Nicholas

The drive from Kingston took about 2 hours & 40 minutes, check in was no longer than 5 minutes. I was shuttled to the room, which was located on the Lady Hamilton Block, the bellboy was very helpful & knowledgeable, giving me a quick overview on the hotel & answering my questions adequately.

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Photos courtesy of Grand Palladium Jamaica

The room I was given was on the ground floor, it had a King Size Bed, Balcony, a Mini Bar which was fully stocked, a couch, safe, & I must say the bed was extremely comfortable.
The food options were better than I expected, I went to the main buffet, for breakfast & lunch, which at all times the wait staff was always checking if I needed anything.
The beach was a bit disappointing for me, as I mostly spent my time during the day at the main pool, which was massive but not crowded, it had a great swim up bar & the Johnnie Walker was always flowing. There was also a water slide which I saw the kids enjoying.

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The dining options were very good, I went to Poseidon (Mediterranean), Bhogali (Indian), Arte E Cuccina (Italian) Bubbas (Steak House), Lotus House (Asian), they all were excellent.

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Photography by PANACHE

 

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The property is also well laid out, with easy directions as well as the covered area from the lobby to your room, in the event of rain and room service is also available.
The resort is very family friendly & also has access for the disabled. For the parents, the play area is really good & the nanny is very experienced.

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The interaction I had with the staff during my stay was excellent, they always had a friendly smile & happy greeting.

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Overall it was a great experience, and I’m definitely looking forward to going back.

Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Gold

Written by Marshelle Haseley

Imagine a piece of nature emitting music into your soul—that is the Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Gold. It is one of the most beautiful and skilfully designed pieces of electronic device on the market, coupled with a clean and superior sound quality.
The amazement begins with its sleek, black hard EVA carrying pouch. Upon opening the pouch, the stunning dominant hand finished, walnut wood earcups and gold-plated accents of the electroplated precision die-cast zinc alloy hardware are bound to attract lovers of music, who are fascinated by fashionable, functional art.

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The fatigue- resistant chromium-manganese alloy spring metal band ensures a comfortable fit, assisted by the self-adjusting PU headband. The soft PU leather ear pads with medium density memory foams give the most luxurious headphone experience—aesthetically matching the sonic splendour we expect from Meze.

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Photography by Azlan Mohammed

The detachable Kevlar-reinforced cables with machined aluminium casing ensure ease and durability. This antique-meets-modern piece is built to last, and is compatible with Apple, Android, Window, and other devices.

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Listening to any genre of music on this fine piece from Meze Audio takes the listener on a journey—every instrument becomes audible, enhancing the listening experience beyond the imagination.

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The Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Gold is a must get for all music lovers who enjoy music, and fine, classic, luxurious experiences.

Simply Iconic: The Zeppelin Review

By Tricia Williamson

It’s been over a decade since Bowers & Wilkins’ first introduced the iconic Zeppelin. This wireless speaker has a stylish, unique and sleek design. I must admit at my first glance of it online, the sheer size didn’t strike me until you see its presence in person. So if you’re in the market for a compact- this is not it.

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Photos courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins

Weighing in at 14lbs, a height of 188mm and width of 660mm- this juggernaut in audio is built for your home. At $699USD, it’s no walk in the penny park. Nevertheless, it is a great addition to your interior design- perfect for a large room with a high ceiling such as a living room or party space.

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Big in size, but even bigger in sound. The Zeppelin is loud and offers high quality, clear audio in its delivery. The speaker is impressive even at high volumes the bass remains powerful yet controlled. Bowers & Wilkins have always been excellent in their craftsmanship.

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As Christmas nears, and we gather for parties and gatherings with family and friends, the Zeppelin is the speaker for your party. You can wake the neighbourhood with this… But please don’t.

Miami Spice: Farm-to-Table Destinations

Welcome to Miami, where farm-to-table cuisine means juicy heirloom tomatoes in the middle of winter, mangos, and jackfruit in the summer and fresh greens year-round. Here, chefs embrace the bounty of fruits and vegetables that flourish in South Miami-Dade’s agricultural district.

Coconut Ceviche Tacos at Plant Food & Wine in Wynwood
Coconut Ceviche Tacos at Plant Food & Wine in Wynwood

Paradise Farms was established roughly 18 years ago specializing in organic produce and edible flowers sold to restaurants. Located in the heart of Homestead, about 45 minutes south of Downtown Miami, the farm supplies many chefs and farmers markets with local fruits and vegetables, herbs, eggs, mushrooms, and other produce.

James Beard award winning chef Michael Schwartz in his herb garden

In Homestead, you can sample authentic tropical farm-to-table dining – and drinking – any time of the year at Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery and its RedLander Restaurant helmed by Chef Dewey LoSasso, a lush, palmy outpost in South Dade. Your meal might include mahi-mahi ceviche and salad made with Malabar spinach or guava-basted chicken wings. Accompany your meal with avocado or passion fruit wine or a Big Rod coconut ale, all made on site at the winery.

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Bringing the Farm to Your Plate
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz is credited with making fresh, local ingredients the star of the show when he opened Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami’s Design District in 2007.

Pineapple & Citrus salad at Essensia
Pineapple & Citrus salad at Essensia

Backyard Gardens
The pioneering farm-to-table restaurant, Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa, takes local love a step further. While they’ve relied on farmers like Teena’s Pride for heirloom tomatoes and other produce, they also grow their own herbs and vegetables in an organic garden behind their tiki bar. Thai basil, lemongrass, lemon balm, Cuban oregano, edible flowers and vegetables all find their way into recipes and cocktails on the menu.

Craig Harley & His Inspiring Journey

by Denar Brown

When the reality that life is a marathon and not a race hits you, then the little changes you made start having big impacts. To think that 2 years ago I was over 40 pounds heavier, struggling in my career and trying to balance the other aspects of my life as well. Craig Harley is the managing director at Creative House Photography and also an athlete. Craig’s work surpasses horizons and expectations, as he is not only known in Jamaica but internationally. However, the process of building himself has been a really heavy deadlift. Owning a business and balancing the gym is not an easy task, especially when your goal is to compete on a national level for men’s physique. When I just started out, I only worked out 3 days a week, until I moved to 5 days a week and then I stopped for a couple of years. Craig told us in his interview that work became cumbersome and fitness had to take a back seat. The stress from work and family was unbearable. Craig told us that there were moments when he had to just stop where he was, drown the world out and remind himself what he is trying to achieve, what he wants from himself, what he wants to eat… In 2016, Craig’s weight struts down the runway of his life, sporting a brand new 40 pounds of fat. This was a stressful point in my life.

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Photography by Dash Productions

Craig lost his father when he was 12 years old, and growing up in the community of Norman Gardens would never be the same. His father was an entrepreneur, and Craig was determined to make his father proud with his business ventures. To do this, Craig created a narrow depth of field for his career, which blurred out the other important aspects of his life: family, friends, and fitness. When you are on the go, working in a fast paced environment and trying to get everything done with only 24 hours in a day, you are more likely to eat food that follows the pace, fast food. Late nights meant late eating, networking meant lots of drinking, everything felt like it fell in place, the right moment and the right time for me to have a drink or to eat the stress away. We were at a Christmas photo-shoot when I accidentally saw myself in the mirror. I looked unflattering; I was so busy building my career up, that I neglected the diameter of my gut. This was not a good look Pull up! Pull up! Lift! Harley’s life needed a change.

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Craig Harley: Before & After

Sooner rather than later Craig realized that the work stress would never end, owning a business will always be a stressful job, so when the work stress started again, Craig decided to use the gym as a relief. However, just going to the gym did not suffice, Craig wanted a challenge, something to motivate himself to keep going, to do better, to build himself. With such a drive a need, there is only one thing that you do to push your own determination and cement it in the memory of others, and that is to make a social media post pledging to enter the countries biggest bodybuilding and fitness competition. Craig thinks of himself as a Harley whenever he is training at the gym, powerful, loud and determined. I won’t quit, but I will cuss the entire time. In preparation for the competition, Craig went through 3 trainers, intense dieting and rigorous training exercises. Sleepless nights were replaced by hungry nights as I worked on curbing years of bad eating habits. The worst part of the process was expecting faster results, I felt like I was on the brink of having the life sucked from my body and the results did not match my pain then, but I knew I had to trust the process. The best part of the experience came next, when the trust started paying off and I started seeing the improvements, the joy of stepping on a scale almost became an addition as I took pride in knowing I took some weight off earth’s shoulders.

Since his decision to invest more in himself, business has been better, Craig’s level of confidence has positively affected his professional and other relationships. He has struck a balance in his life between work, family, his mental and physical health. We asked Craig if he could tell someone who is having a similar issue some words of encouragement what would he say? Make the effort to do the work and allow your body to respond. Life is a marathon, not a race, it’s not about when you start or how fast you go but rather how long you can stay in the game. A healthy lifestyle promotes a longer life, take a risk on bettering yourself.

Caribbean Travel & Lifestyle Magazine