Built in 1968, Boston City Hall was designed to be an open, accessible, and collaborative space where the public and elected officials could harmoniously come together. In 2017, The Boston City Council Chambers began a renovation led by Finegold Alexander Architects to become universally accessible while also addressing technology and systems upgrades. Acentech provided acoustics and audiovisual consulting services for this historic renovation.

The existing Council Chambers were excessively reverberant which impeded speech intelligibility. Acentech worked with the architect to incorporate sound absorbing materials and the ceiling and walls, thereby improving speech intelligibility while also adding warmth and color to the concrete form. Acoustical recommendations included concealed spray insulation and custom drapery to line the perimeter walls in order to absorb reverberant sounds and allow for easy conversation and debate.

Acentech’s audiovisual consultants established goals for speech intelligibility, designed and specified a new digital discussion system, designed a new loudspeaker solution that seamlessly integrates into the space, and designed a graphical user interface to control the AV system. These audiovisual improvements, along with the acoustic treatments work together to ensure all speech is intelligible and accessible to all. With minimally invasive changes, the design team modernized a space that will continue to serve the needs of the people while embracing its historic past.

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