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HISTORIC BUILDING ACOUSTICAL ENGINEERING

College Hall Restoration, University of Pennsylvania

College Hall Restoration, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · College Hall is the first building on the University of Pennsylvania campus. This consultation involved a major renovation/restoration of the grandest space in College Hall, Room 200, a two-story gothic vaulted room with stained glass windows. The program called for complete restoration while providing a new multi-media environment with excellent acoustics to serve many uses, including lectures and banquets. OAA developed architecturally appropriate details for integrating reverberation control finishes, noise control solutions for the new HVAC system, sound isolating methods for the new mechanical equipment room, and a new sound system with concealed loudspeakers.

College Hall Restoration, University of Pennsylvania

Center for Chemical Research, Columbia University, New York, New York · This is a major renovation of one of the original McKim Mead and White campus buildings into a modern chemical research facility. Services included the design of interior acoustics of the lecture halls, sound isolating construction, and noise and vibration control for the extensive new air handling system. Measures were also identified to allow rooftop equipment noise emissions to comply with NYC code limits.

Victoria Theatre, Dayton, Ohio

Victoria Theatre, Dayton Ohio · The Theatre, on Dayton’s Main Street, consists of a 1890 Second Empire building, and a 1915 auditorium and stagehouse. The interior of the 1890 building and the entire stagehouse were replaced, and the auditorium renovated and restored to create a state-of-the-art 1200-seat auditorium.

OAA performed an acoustical evaluation of the auditorium prior to renovation. These tests confirmed complaints of poor intelligibility in certain orchestra seats. The problem was traced to delayed sound reflections off the high ceiling area above the proscenium. OAA specified corrective finishes to control these problem reflections which were compatible with this highly visible ornamental plaster area. OAA also provided finish recommendations to promote: an appropriate degree of reverberation; useful reflections for natural speech reinforcement; and, to eliminate echo. OAA engineered sound isolation features to control street noise penetration and identified HVAC noise control features to achieve NC-20 levels.

Victoria Theatre, Dayton, Ohio ©2001 Victoria Theatre

John Harms Center for the Arts, Englewood, New Jersey · The Harms Center occupies a 1926 vaudeville house in downtown Englewood. The $6.6 million renovation included a general refurbishment of finishes in the spirit of 1926, a balcony extension, and the addition of an air conditioning system. The balcony was extended toward the stage to increase capacity by 300 seats, to a total of 1500. Ostergaard Acoustical Associates analyzed the proposed changes and recommended finishes to promote natural acoustics, while controlling reverberation and echo.

The new air conditioning system allows the center to operate year-round for the first time. OAA established criteria for the system noise levels, provided initial noise control guidelines to the system designers, and analyzed the proposed system to identify noise control measures needed to meet sound level objectives. Methods to control the penetration of street noise were identified.

Susan B. Anthony House · The original stable behind this historic site was converted into a two story multi-purpose space. OAA carried out an acoustical analysis of the interior in order to identify architecturally compatible methods for controlling speech-blurring reverberation.

Cradle of Aviation Museum, Mitchell Field, Garden City, New York · Two historic hangers have been converted to exhibition space. OAA provided consultation on finishes to contain audio between exhibits, identified methods to sound isolate mechanical rooms, and investigated noise and vibration control methods for HVAC Equipment.

The Presbyterian Church of Westfield, Westfield, New Jersey

The Presbyterian Church of Westfield, Westfield, New Jersey · OAA provided acoustical consultation for the sanctuary renovation of the historic Westfield Presbyterian Church. In addition to services, the sanctuary is used by the Westfield Symphony Orchestra. Issues included

  • Acoustical guidance on modifications to the chancel to reduce an imbalance in organ levels between the nave and chancel.
  • Design of audio-visual systems for sound reinforcement of speech and the ability to make archival audio and video recordings.
  • Sound isolation, noise control, and vibration control guidance for the addition of an air conditioning system with a new mechanical room in the attic above the sanctuary.

To quote the Star-Ledger concerning a Westfield Symphony concert in the renovated sanctuary:

…the passionate playing, the sharp contrasts, the bold statements followed by silences were lots of fun and made doubly exciting by the smallish size and lively acoustics of the Westfield venue.... And the excitement lent to the proceedings by the hall added equally to the success of the symphony …

The Presbyterian Church of Westfield, Westfield, New Jersey

Stevenson Library, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York · The Bard Library consists of an 1893 Greek revival style temple and a 1974 modern addition located on a slope at the edge of the campus near the president's residence. A five story addition on the lower side of the slope doubles the size of the library. The addition provides a new atrium entrance and outdoor plaza forming the new front entry area for the library complex.

OAA was retained for acoustical consultation on this project based on prior performance for the architects and concern over noise problems caused by the 1974 addition. Services included recommendation of architecturally compatible finishes to provide quiet in reading areas. OAA also analyzed proposed constructions to assure adequate sound and vibration isolation from mechanical equipment and developed recommendations to control the transmission of emergency generator noise to the interior and exterior.

Celeste Bartos Forum, New York Public Library, New York, New York

Celeste Bartos Forum, New York Public Library, New York, New York · The Celeste Bartos Forum is a majestic, glass-domed 6,400 square foot space created out of the original local lending branch within the New York Public Library. It provides the library with an elegant space for receptions, lectures, and recitals. Designed by Carrere & Hastings, this 1911 space was hidden for many years within the main library.

Since all of the finishes in the Forum were acoustically hard and sound reflective (glass dome and lay-lites, ornate cast iron columns and mullions, marble walls and tile floors) the space was not acoustically suited for its proposed use. OAA was asked by the architects to determine the acoustic feasibility of the renovation and the acoustical measures required. Our evaluation surprisingly indicated that corrective acoustical measures were not required on the 40 foot dome, provided that the proposed sound system did not direct sound at the dome. Large areas of sound absorbent material were required to control reverberation and care was needed so that the new air handling system was quiet (NC-25).

OAA assisted by reviewing sound system proposals to assure directional control from the large movable loudspeakers. Methods were found to unobtrusively introduce the needed sound absorption via side-aisle lay-lites, treatment of existing bookcases, and installation of carpet. The air handling system was analyzed and recommendations prepared for system noise control.

Celeste Bartos Forum, New York Public Library

Additional Restoration Projects

  • New York State Assembly Chamber, Albany, New York
  • South Carolina Statehouse, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Appellate and Supreme Court Buildings, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Mars Education Center, Fort Ticonderoga, New York
  • Greenville Branch Library Auditorium, Jersey City, New Jersey