Alice Tully Hall is an acoustically intimate 1087-seat performance venue within New York City’s Lincoln Center Complex. A subway line passes near the northeast corner of the hall; the subway tunnel contains two local tracks and two express tracks. The groundborne rumble from express trains in particular was clearly audible inside the hall.The $159 million renovation of Alice Tully Hall included a new air handling system that would reduce the ambient noise levels in the hall, making the subway noise even more noticeable. The project decided that, as part of the renovation, efforts would be made to reduce subway-related noise. Acentech, working with Jaffe Holden Acoustics, identified the principal propagation paths and radiators of subway-induced noise in the hall.

Acentech made a series of vibration measurements in Tully Hall to quantify the contributions from the principal noise radiating surfaces. We then incorporated the data into a vibration model that we developed to calculate the subway-related noise levels due to various combinations of surface treatments. We used this model to predict the improvements that could be expected using various practical treatment combinations.

Acentech’s consultants also suggested that Lincoln Center contact the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to see what might be done to isolate the tracks. As it turned out the MTA was planning a major rehabilitation of the express tracks in front of Lincoln Center and they agreed to install resilient track fasteners as part of that project. The result of the track isolation plus the hall treatments was very successful. The hall re-opened in 2009 to rave reviews.

The pianist Wu Han—the co-director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which is Tully’s principal tenant—happily told the audience on the second night that the hall was “the quietest place in New York City,” and she may be right. The New Yorker 03/16/2009

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