Almost everyone working in acoustics today owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Leo L. Beranek. As a founder of the firm Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), Leo was key to building the pioneering acoustical firm that the American Institute of Architects cited as “having almost single-handedly invented an entire profession by creating an awareness of acoustical considerations in design and by integrating solutions based on scientific principles with architectural and artistic concepts.” Acentech is proud to be the successor firm of BBN’s work in architectural acoustics, vibration and noise control, and audiovisual systems design. Of Leo’s many accomplishments, a few of note include: Past President of the Acoustical Society of America, Past President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Chairman of the Board of the Boston Symphony, recipient of the Sabine and Gold medals from the Acoustical Society of America and recipient of the National Medal of Science in Engineering (2002). Leo was the author of countless technical articles and seminal textbooks. In the world of architectural acoustics, he is perhaps best known for his 1962 book Music, Acoustics & Architecture (and its subsequent version, Concert Halls and Opera Houses, 1996 and 2004) which established an objective framework for evaluating concert hall acoustics that continues to influence the field even today.
Leo Beranek passed away quietly and peacefully at his home in Westwood on Monday October 10, 2016, at the age of 102. On behalf of all the staff at Acentech, we honor his incredible life, his immeasurable influence on our field of work, and his inspiration. Leo was a mentor and great personal friend of mine. You can learn more about his life in his 2008 autobiography Riding The Waves: A Life in Sound, Science, and Industry. You can learn more about his work in concert hall acoustics in Leo Beranek and Concert Hall Acoustics that appeared in Acoustics Today (2014).
Note: On October 20, 2016, Ben Markham was honored to have had the opportunity to speak with WBUR regarding the life and legacy of Leo Beranek. The audio interview is available on WBUR’s website here.