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  • Michael Fay

Acoustics 101 for Architects

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

A presentation of acoustical terminology and concepts relating directly to the design and construction of an architectural space. Low-tech descriptions, explanations, and examples.

This essay is tailored to the one group of people who have more influence over a building's acoustics than any other; architects.

The focus is on Architectural Acoustics, a field that is broader than most imagine. To do justice to the theme, we must briefly touch on many subordinate topics, most having a synergetic relationship bonding architecture and sound.

This paper is based on fundamentals, not perfection. It covers most of the basics, and explores many modern and esoteric matters as well. You will be introduced to interesting and analytical subjects; some you may know, some you may never have considered. Here are a few examples of what you'll find by reading on:

  • What is sound and why is it so hard to manage or control?

  • The length of low- and high-frequency sound waves vary by as much as 400:1. Why does this disparity matter?

  • How and why do various audible frequencies behave differently when interacting with various materials, structures, shapes and finishes?

  • There are three acoustical tools available to both the architect and the acoustician. What are they? How can they benefit or hinder the work of each craft?

  • Room geometry: Why some shapes are much better than others. Examples and explanations.

  • Reverberation and echo: How do they differ? Which is better, or worse, and why? How much is too much, or too little?

  • Speech intelligibility: We all know it matters. What can architects do to help or hinder?

  • Three simple tests: Quick, easy ways to evaluate the basic acoustical merits of a room.

  • Opportunities and tradeoffs: Blending architecture, acoustics and pragmatism.

  • Acoustical priorities: One man's wish list.

  • Modern materials: Acoustical glass coverings, acoustical plaster, CMU diffuser block, graphic imprinting on acoustical products, and much more.

It's easy to think that sound is completely removed from the fundamental principles of architecture. Nothing could be further from reality.

Consider this: If a person were seated in an amazingly beautiful structure at night, one without illumination, they would see few, if any, of the features, shapes, materials, colors, textures, or workmanship that was created. However, given that same dearth of light, all audible sounds remain unaltered, for better or worse.

To see the full white paper click here,

Copyright - Michael Fay 2013 - All Rights Reserved

#Acoustics #Intelligibility #T60 #Echo #ArchitecturalAcoustics #Architects #101 #Consultant #AudioConsultant #AcousticConsultant #Sound #SoundConsultant #SpeechIntelligibility #Reverb


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