MH+D Inside Out: Dwight Herdrich on Designing Performance Spaces

After working in Florida for several years, Dwight Herdrich moved back to Maine to grow his eponymous architecture firm and green-building construction company, Nordhauser Construction. Herdrich discusses his ongoing projects in sustainable and acoustic design, as well as his distinctly local aesthetic with Maine Home + Design.

Q. How do you reinvent the traditional New England vernacular?

A. With Nordhauser, I’ve been working on taking a classic farmhouse with 12’ x 12’ pitches, connecting it to a barn, and surrounding the timber frame with glass sides to make a greenhouse. So, it’s still that same exact shape as a 200-year-old farmhouse, but now it’s an insulated home surrounded by a timber-frame greenhouse.

Q. You also work in acoustic design. Could you tell me about that?

A. I’ve been a musician since I was born. My favorite spaces are concert halls and performing spaces. I’ve taken a lot of technical acoustic classes to learn how sound works. A lot of it has to do with the things that are in the space, not necessarily the materials or the shape of the space. Some rooms are absolutely horrible if they’re empty, but if you fill them up with people, they have the best acoustics on the planet.

Q. Any projects you’re working on now that involve acoustic design?

A. Right now, I’m doing two churches. There’s a huge Eastpoint Christian Church that was the old Bob’s Discount Furniture. I’m basically turning a big box into an auditorium, so there are lots of angled walls and diffusers to disperse the sound.

Q. Anything else?

A. I’m also building a new performing space for Portland Radio Group’s Studio Z, where they bring in artists for an in-house concert. My idea was to make it look like one of those floating docks in the Portland harbor with the lobster pots. I’m not trying to make it look as elaborate as Disneyland, but I’m adding just enough details to make it look like the Old Port.

Q. Least favorite material?

A. I hate drywall. I hardly ever use drywall, unless it’s to offset something that’s very rustic.

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