Arup Acoustics and the Arup Venue Consulting team are celebrating after two of their projects picked up a total of three awards.
The UK’s Theatre Royal in Bury St. Edmunds has won both a Civic Trust award and a USITT Honor Award, while Tempe Center for the Arts in Arizona has received a USITT Merit Award.
At Theatre Royal in Bury St. Edmunds, Arup provided acoustics and venue consulting services. Arup Venue Consulting worked with architect Levitt Bernstein Associates to advise on integration of new stage machinery, lighting, and sound systems into the fabric of the auditorium in order to seamlessly equip the theatre with the latest technological systems.
Arup Acoustics found that the sound quality in the theatre was already good before the restoration so it was important to maintain and enhance it for the performance of the occasional chamber opera. Seating arrangements were changed back to the original Georgian layout and various partitions and doors were reinstalled, requiring a careful balance between the volume of the auditorium and the total acoustic absorption to maintain the appropriate acoustics response.
At Tempe, Arup worked on acoustics and audio systems, lighting and SMEP- structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing. Kurt Graffy, principal consultant with Arup Acoustics in San Francisco says, "We're delighted to have worked with Barton Myers Associates, Inc. and Architekton, Architects, to win the USITT Merit Award for Tempe. Among the challenges for Arup at Tempe was a site 150 feet below a major flight path, with aircraft passing overhead every 30-90 seconds, and the curved plan and section of the main theatre." The collaboration between acoustics and architecture resolving these issues found its expression in what the Arizona Republic proclaimed "A Triumph in Aural Architecture."
The large, overhanging roof became dual purpose for sound isolation and thermal shielding, serving as the first element of a decoupled mass-airspace- assembly providing high sound isolation with a minimum thickness at the exterior envelope.
"The lamella pattern of beams in the main theatre's dome breaks up and diffuses what would otherwise be focusing from the dome's curved surface," continues Graffy. "While an electro-acoustic enhancement system allows a small room with short natural acoustics for drama to provide the longer reverberation times necessary for classical music."
Rob Harris, Director of Arup's Performing Arts Sector, adds, "Jim Niesel, who is in town to sit on the rigging standards working group for ESTA, will pick up the two USITT Awards at a banquet in Houston. Arup has a policy of recruiting people who not only move the industry forward but also remain connected with the industry itself as practitioners, so it's great that we've won these accolades."
Arup picked up the Civic Trust award for Theatre Royal on March 12, 2008 and will collect the USITT awards on March 22, 2008.