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acoustics methodology



acoustics methodology


From the warmth and familiarity of the finest concert halls to the sensory challenges of immersive media, great sound is achieved through collaboration of many disciplines and an acute awareness of the fluid boundaries between science and art. We’ve spent a lot of time amidst those boundaries helping people see what they want to hear, so our temperament is to advise and enlighten rather than direct or inhibit.

This, in fact, could be our greatest point of difference in the profession: we help clients and designers achieve excellence by guiding a highly informed process of discovery and evaluation. With the scientific and perceptual basis for acoustic imperatives firmly in hand, the design team can explore possibilities with confidence – and even a sense of adventure. This helps everyone on the team make smart decisions, and it promotes an atmosphere of goodwill, candor, and respect upon which long-term relationships thrive.


Highlighted Acoustics Projects

Case Studies

Highlighted Acoustics Projects

Case Studies



Location: New York, New York
Completion Date: 2021
Size: 90,000 square feet

The Perelman Center is the final element in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site in downtown Manhattan. The facility will embody the notion of “world trade” by assembling artists and ensembles from around the world to produce new works of theater, dance, opera, music, and cinema. Perched above subway and commuter rail tracks, the performance spaces will be structurally isolated from the bedlam below by hundreds of rubber pads. This approach also offers isolation of each theatre from the others, providing refuge from disruption that is hard to find in the city.

On this canvas of silence, artists will present their work in three theaters -- of 99, 250, and 499 seats -- that are separated by pairs of vertically-deployed acoustic doors, the largest weighing 80,000 pounds. The three rooms can be combined in eleven different configurations with capacities ranging from 99 to 1200 seats. The massive doors allow simultaneous use of the three separate rooms without fear of disrupting one another’s performances. The acoustic characteristics of the spaces as well as the degree of isolation between them were the subjects of an elaborate series of auralizations during schematic design.

Movable seating in the smaller theatres and movable three-story seating towers in the large one allow wholesale personality changes in the venues from one event to another, and it is the Center's hope that audiences will rarely encounter the same room configuration twice. Since there is no fixed audience-performer configuration, the acoustic approach emphasizes intimacy, diffusion, and variable absorption. The diffusive lining of the theatre interiors was developed by genetic algorithm, a 'collaboration' of human and computer that allows mathematical evaluation of thousands of surface shaping iterations, with the humans firmly in control, both visually and aurally.


Case Study: wheaton college, conservatory of music, armerding hall

Location: Wheaton, Illinois
Construction: phase one - renovation, phase two - new construction
Completion Date: phase one - 2017; phase two - 2020
Size: 90,594 square feet

Wheaton College has long cultivated young musicians in a tight-knit community outside of Chicago. The program grew so much in recent decades, however, that the Conservatory burst at the seams, needing expanded space for faculty and students alike. The construction of a new science building on campus led to the availability of Armerding Hall, a decidedly non-musical building, for renovation as a new home for the Conservatory on the central campus quad. 

Armerding was gutted and refitted to serve the everyday needs of the Conservatory's faculty and students. Teaching studios and practice rooms were retrofit into the existing superstructure, and an existing lecture hall gained a story of additional height, becoming a new 100-seat recital hall with concerts expected 200 days a year. As this space moved through the design process, we modeled it alongside two campus venues well known to the faculty. Several of the faculty gamely (and expertly) allowed us to record them in an anechoic chamber. When played back as sources in the auralizations, they heard themselves perform in renditions of the existing spaces as well as the unbuilt recital hall, a moving experience for everyone involved.

Acoustic isolation strategies applied to the original superstructure allow for practice and instruction sessions throughout the building without distractions and give students and faculty places to work that convey a sense of value in the Conservatory's everyday activity, not just in the final performances. AV systems further support advanced instruction and recording capabilities.

A second phase of the project will include a new 650-seat concert hall and the college’s first dedicated rehearsal hall for their formidable choral program.


Case Study: national arts centre

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Construction: phase one - renovation and expansion, phase two - renovation
Completion Date: phase one - 2017, phase two - late 2018
Size: Entire facility: 1,158,000 square feet

When the National Arts Centre opened in 1969, it was Canada’s premier venue for performing arts. In the 50 years hence, the facility’s technical systems have aged and the once-chic brutalist architectural could best be described as dated and unwelcoming. As Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial, the NAC’s public spaces have been expanded to welcome the public with transparent facades and new performance, education and gathering spaces that create a beacon for the arts amongst Confederation Square and Parliament Hill.  

The performances spaces are refreshed with new electrical and technical systems as well as improved sound isolation between the Centre’s four main performance venues. Southam Hall, the Centre’s 2,300-seat opera house, is invigorated with a re-seated audience chamber to improve audience access, comfort, and the room’s acoustic response. 

Throughout the many-year process of investigation, design and implementation, Threshold has worked with the National Arts Centre Orchestra to produce its optimal sound within Southam though incremental changes that integrate re-tuning and re-deployment of its electronic enhancement system and a new orchestra enclosure for the 2018-19 season.