Newsletter | Nov/Dec 2005

October's Meeting on Acoustical Design
by Elaine hsieh

Approximately 60 people attended the "Overview of Acoustical Design" presentation at the office of Charles M. Salter Associates, Inc. on October 17. Elaine Hsieh, OWA Steering Committee member and acoustical consultant, started by presenting on the history of acoustics, general acoustical issues due to environmental, mechanical, and plumbing noise and vibration, wall and floor-ceiling constructions in housing and offices, room acoustics, and A/V systems.

Charles Salter then continued speaking about case studies that the firm has worked on, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Stanford Theater, SF MOMA, Oakland Federal Building Courthouse, Skywalker Ranch Technical Building, KQED Recording Stage, as well as housing and restaurant projects. He also spoke about expert witness work he has been involved in with various litigation cases, mostly involving noise complaints, to demonstrate the importance of due diligence, setting appropriate project goals, and evaluation of submittals in the design and construction process.

He also discussed the firm's work on Norman Foster's James H. Clark Center at Stanford University and Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, including several specific details used on these extraordinary projects. Charles indicated the sound-absorbing treatments being used at the Clark Center's subterranean lecture hall, which has the shape of a perfect circle, and the isolation required at the lecture hall's skylights since people outside can walk on top of the structure. Isolation was also required in the Disney Concert Hall, with its large mechanical systems, built-in pipe organ, and main concert hall directly above the parking garage.

Questions were taken from the audience once the presentation was finished, and various acoustical materials (e.g., rubber and cork underlayments, resilient channel, acoustical plaster) were passed around for show-and-tell as requested. Informal tours of the office were then given to those interested in short demonstrations of the firm's famous Presentation Studio (a type of anechoic chamber used to demonstrate background noise levels, noise isolation, reverberation levels, and generally help clients determine noise criteria for projects).