J. Christopher Jaffe, 1927-2013
We are saddened to announce that J. Christopher Jaffe died on Thursday May 23, 2013 of leukemia. As a capstone to his legendary career in architectural acoustics, for the last four years, Chris worked with Studio A, the performing arts acoustics consulting practice at Acentech, contributing invaluable insight to our work. Chris had an irrepressible charm and sense of humor, a wealth of knowledge, and an encyclopedic memory of his work on the design of more than 250 performance halls. The entire acoustical consulting industry has lost one if its leaders; those fortunate enough to work with Chris have lost a friend, true collaborator, and mentor.
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Chris graduated from the School of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1949, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from RPI in 1980. In 1958, he founded Stagecraft Corporation, where he designed lightweight demountable "tunable" orchestra shells for symphony orchestras throughout the country. Soon after he founded Jaffe Acoustics, and through that firm and its successors he served as acoustician for such performance spaces as Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Hollywood Bowl, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall renovation, the renovation of Severance Hall in Cleveland, Sala Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City, the concert halls at Tokyo International Forum, and dozens of other spaces. He invented an electronic acoustic enhancement system called Electronic Reflected-Energy System (ERES). He taught acoustics at Julliard, City University of New York, and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he helped establish the master's program in architectural acoustics. His honors include the Ellis Island Medal of honor, the American Institute of Architect's Award for Collaborative Achievement, and election to the RPI Hall of Fame. In 2009, he joined the performing arts practice at Acentech Incorporated, Studio A, where he worked on projects for the Longwharf Theater, the University of Southern Indiana, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Boston University, and others. In 2010, his book The Acoustics of Performance Halls: Spaces for Music from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl was published by WW Norton. In 2011, the Acoustical Society of America named Chris the recipient of the Wallace Clement Sabine Medal, "for innovative acoustical solutions in performance hall design and for architectural acoustics education."