Acoustics in the Great Hall of the Valley Performing Arts Center
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the performance hall is its variable acoustical system. Behind the screen "grillage" covering the rear and side walls lie both carefully shaped reflecting wall construction and deployable sound absorptive wool serge fabric. The architect's vision was to keep the hall's appearance unchanged irrespective of the different sound attributes necessary for various productions; this challenge required optimizing both the walls' reflectivity and absorptivity behind the metal mesh cover. Additional variable acoustic banners can be deployed above the hall’s catwalks to further modify the halls sound quality to suit a wide range of performance types.
“Design of single-purpose halls such as orchestral concert halls or drama venues can be challenging enough within architectural and budget constraints, but when one is required to serve each of these needs well, the challenge looms very large,” noted David Conant, principal of acoustical consultants McKay Conant Hoover who oversaw the acoustical design.
Design features of the hall include sinuous wood ribbons radiating from the stage while more than 34,000 feet of stainless steel mesh panels cover the acoustical fabric on the rear walls. The hall also includes an adjustable orchestra shell, a spacious professional stage-house with an 85-foot-high full fly tower equipped with a 60-line set rigging system, a hydraulic stage extension/pit lift and generous backstage maneuvering space for large stage sets. Another keystone is a 178-seat black box theater that Executive Director Robert Bucker promises will become a showcase for groundbreaking experimental theater. The complex also includes several large rehearsal rooms, academic and professional production support spaces, theatre studio-classrooms, a 230-seat lecture hall, and studio facilities for the university’s award-winning KCSN (88.5 FM) public radio station.