The University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center (AHC) has chosen a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx system for its central teaching forum, the Mayo Memorial Auditorium in Minneapolis.

The six schools and colleges that make up the AHC include the disciplines of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and veterinary medicine. The Mayo Memorial Auditorium is used primarily as a lecture hall but also serves many other functions, including computer-based testing, continuing and distance education for large group seminars, and for grand rounds presentations. Other typical uses include Medical School White Coat ceremonies, graduation ceremonies and celebrations, Mini Medical School programs, the Academic Health Center Lecture series, community and alumni events, and cultural events and exhibits.

Built in 1951 and renovated in 2006, the 18,200sq-ft. building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, which required that its overall character and detailing had to be preserved in line with the Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties, 1995.
Architects Smith Group, based out of Minneapolis, with principal architect Ted Davis and project architect Nick Woodard, were awarded the task of renovation, while technology consultants Elert & Associates of Stillwater, MN were engaged to analyze the auditorium and design a system capable of delivering seamless, first class speech quality.

In effect, the audio system—covering the egg-shaped 549-seat auditorium and balcony from just two 9” wide openings in the wall—was required to “disappear” into the architectural renovation. Sound sources include wired and wireless microphones, DVD, VCR and computers.
Elert & Associates’ team, led by principal consultant Will Craig and associate Ron Puncsak, set to work on the challenge and Ron Puncsak developed an EASE model of the room in conjunction with Nick Woodard at Smith Group.

Different digitally-steerable line arrays were modeled, and a pair of Iconyx IC8 loudspeakers, flanking a 16’ x 9’ rear-projection screen, became the device of choice after verification with Renkus-Heinz’s BeamWare. Jim Mobley, senior applications engineer at Renkus-Heinz, carried out verification on the EASE model to guarantee the system’s eventual performance, with each IC8 tuned to deliver three sound ‘beams’ to evenly cover the seating.

Audio integration was the work of Tierney Brothers, Inc.; Jeff Blexrud performed the technical configuration with Jiggs Lee from Elert & Associates.

At the renovated building’s official reopening ceremony, Nick Woodard commented, “It was essential that the acoustical performance expected of a high technology, contemporary audio system be balanced with the aesthetics of this historic building, which was a significant challenge. Iconyx proved to be the ideal solution, meeting or exceeding everyone’s expectations and satisfying the most critical eyes and ears simultaneously.”