The measure of any performing arts venue is the audience experience of both sight and sound. But the creation of any memorable experience isn’t possible unless architects, engineers, acousticians and designers can see a client’s vision, hear their inspired thoughts and feel their passion. It is in listening to our clients that we create a venue designed for listening.
When we collaborate with clients on cultural and performing arts centres, our combined talents should place your sensory systems on notice, most certainly, sight and sound. Visually, the space must embrace and manifest the artistic vision and cultural context of presenting artists and owner groups alike. From architecture to art, the experience must be an immersive occurrence, where visual cues allow you to naturally experience rather than simply observe one’s surroundings.
How we listen within these spaces is also key. Ensembles hone their ability to hear subtle nuances of pitch, tone and timbre. How they process that knowledge – combining audio and intellectual signals – allows them to bring a musical balance to the audience.
Of course, before any of this can occur, architects, engineers, acousticians and designers must be able to actually see a client’s artistic vision, hear their inspired forethoughts and feel their passion for excellence. How we process that knowledge – combining interdisciplinary expertise – allows us to bring a design (and performance) balance to our clients. That process is called, Design Synchronicity. In the case of the Hamel Music Center on the University of Wisconsin campus, Design Synchronicity protocol is ensuring optimal project outcomes.
When construction is completed in early 2019, the venue will include a recital hall, a rehearsal hall and a concert hall. Of those, the most complex and unique features will be found in the 650-seat Mead-Witter Concert Hall.
The key elements of the acoustic design are massive reverberation chambers on both sides of the stage. The walls between these chambers and the stage feature cavernous circular cavities up to eight feet in diameter. Performance fabric will cover the area, allowing sound to enter the chamber, reverberate, and reflect back out to the audience, providing a three-dimensional quality and natural timbre of sound.
Next, the team designed a series of recessed circular panels called coffers along the walls of the concert hall. While the coffers match the cavities in size and shape, they allow for the sound to be diffused and absorbed, as opposed to entering the reverberation chambers.
The overall result is sound that not only fills the concert hall, but moves back toward the stage, allowing musicians to hear music just as their audience hears it. This will allow performers to create melodies exactly as they were intended.
Let’s just say it’ll be worth a listen.
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