Berklee College’s new multi-use 16-story tower houses 173 residence hall rooms for 369 students, 23 practice rooms, 6 two-story common areas, a fitness center, and a 400-seat dining hall that doubles as a performance space. Acentech provided architectural acoustics for the tower, with a focus on room acoustics, sound isolation, and mechanical systems noise control.

The dining hall is one of the most dramatic features of the building—both literally and figuratively. Intended to double as a performance space, this is a two story, 41-foot tall venue complete with a ribbon-like mezzanine and a fully-glazed curtain wall framing the stage area. Acentech worked with the architect to create an acoustical environment that lends itself to live amplified performances, both in terms of room response as well as suitably quiet background noise levels.

The tower’s ground floor serves as a space for retail, and is located directly below the dining hall. One of the project’s main challenges was to provide suitable sound isolation between the two levels to prevent the transfer of any disturbances between the dining hall and retail spaces. A second challenge was to achieve a suitably low background noise level in the dining hall, given the HVAC equipment’s close proximity in a mechanical mezzanine adjacent to the spac itself. Beyond the challenges posed by this community-focused space, Acentech also addressed sound isolation needs between the individual dorm rooms and practice rooms located on the top floors.

As seen in many projects involving music and sound-sensitive spaces, tending to the acoustical goals of the client, the visual goals of the architect, and the allotted budget of the project can prove challenging. Acentech worked closely with the entire team to marry all three of these factors together and create a space students, teachers, and visitors love to use.

“Goethe called architecture ‘frozen music’ and this building is alive with musical resonance. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to predict that some major musical innovations are likely to come out of this magnificent building.”

— Roger Brown, President, Berklee College of Music


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