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the concert hall

Designed to be a first-rate venue for orchestras, yet equally capable of accommodating presentations with electronically generated sound and video projection, the concert hall is configured traditionally, as a long, narrow room of wood and masonry construction. The floor is maple. The walls are cedar at the bottom and precast stone at the top and are gently convex in form, for acoustic diffusion.

The ceiling, which is the most innovative feature of the concert hall, is made of panels of fabric less than one millimeter thick, supported on a delicate web of stainless steel cables. The fabric is selected and supported to be gently reflective to high-frequency sound and increasingly transparent to mid- and low-frequency sound, providing the acoustic support needed by musicians on the platform while allowing the volume above the ceiling to contribute to the reverberance required of a first-rate orchestral hall. The fabric ceiling, which like the walls is gently convex in shape, masks the electrical and mechanical equipment accommodated above, including light fixtures, and so provides a gently glowing surface.

modeling the transmissive ceiling canopy

The project team was commissioned to construct a detailed computational model of the ceiling canopy design design as specified by acoustician Kirkegaard Associates.  Both the acousticians and campus officials determined that a study should be performed using auralization techniques to both aurally verify the feasibility of the design and to select a proper fabric material for the canopy.

The objectives for this applied research project are as follows:
  1. To create a highly-accurate computed model of the interior room acoustics of the concert hall, including the effect of the canopy on the early reflections and reverberation of the room.
  2. To render these computed results as an auralization using means that would provide for a natural reconstruction of the musical behavior of the room.
  3. To use these techniques combined with measured transmission and reflection properties of the candidate canopy materials to select an optimal ceiling material.

Scale model of the ceiling canopy design (model by Kirkegaard Associates).

This material is based upon work supported by eMPAC at Rensselaer.
© 2004, Paul Henderson