Paper written by Shane Jerome Kanter, consultant
As designers of venues for performance, we spend a considerable amount of time and effort on creating spaces suitable for performance: spaces in which performances can be enjoyed by performers and patrons alike. A large sum of the effort embedded within the design is concerned with maintaining a low background noise level while the acoustically critical spaces are in use. The typical noise sources within concert halls, such as mechanical systems and light fixtures, are predictable and controllable. Just as background noise is inferential, audience noise within the common classical music venue is generally understood and under control. When one imagines seeing the symphony, images of finely dressed individuals sitting quietly in rows of a concert hall are conjured. Once architectural elements such as wall, roofs, and seats are removed, and events are free to the public, ambient noise and audience noise are looser variables. With the use of an audience survey, the impact of outdoor/city noise and audience noise on the experience of concert goers was explored at a The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (Chicago, IL) in order to answer the following questions:
How noticeable was the ambient noise (city noise, traffic, etc.) during the performance?
Did the ambient noise have an effect on the performance experience?
How noticeable was the audience noise (other patrons chatting, drinking/eating, etc.) during the performance?
Did the audience noise have an effect on the performance experience?