Architectural Record — “Continuing Education: Acoustics”

December 1, 2017

“Humans are visual creatures, and architects are particularly visual humans—first the drawings and then the photographs are often mistaken for a building’s whole story. But the experience of architecture is more powerful and subtle than eyes alone perceive. Especially in community gathering places, acoustics play a vital role in shaping a building’s character and the quality of experience it facilitates. From theater to library to ashram, designers are working with acoustics to bring their projects into the round.

Few buildings are designed for acoustics more deliberately than performance spaces, as Chicago-based Studio Gang’s new Writers Theatre illustrates.The 36,000-square-foot building comprises two performance spaces (a main stage and a smaller black-box venue) opening onto a glass lobby structured by timber trusses. Located in Glencoe, Illinois, and completed in 2016, the new theater replaces a much smaller-capacity venue in which Writers grew up. Theatrical intimacy has characterized the spoken-word company since its start in 1992, and the design team strove to maintain that quality even as Nichols Theatre, Writers’ new 250-seat main stage, more than doubled the capacity of the previous venue and quadrupled its acoustic volume.”

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Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing