The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts is home to some of the most historically significant structures in our country. But, just because the place is full of history doesn’t mean that its civic center should have ancient AV systems. As part of a city-wide audiovisual upgrade project, the city had Acentech provide consulting to improve speech reinforcement, provide video presentation and playback capabilities, and improve overall acoustic performance within City Hall’s most significant spaces.

Sullivan Chamber is one of the most important civic spaces in the City of Cambridge. A strong desire to keep the room historically intact resulted in a strategy, informed by input from the Cambridge Historical Commission, where new technology should be “applied” to the space rather than fully integrated architecturally. This approach maintained the integrity of the area while allowing flexibility in the future to retool systems with next generations of equipment. To help overcome the hard wall surfaces that could not receive absorption, a set of line array loudspeakers with steerable technology directs sound only on the audience members to improve intelligibility while reducing unwanted reflections.

The new directional sound and lighting technologies, 13 foot automated screen and projection system, sound attenuation panels, specialized window treatments, and HD camera system will dramatically enhance the ability to hear and see in the Chamber and on cable TV broadcasts. Additionally, this project continues Cambridge’s commitment to ensuring equal access of information for all residents by installing a state-of-the-art integrated assisted listening device system.

The two other meeting rooms at City Hall, the Ackermann Room and Sophie Room, received lighting, audiovisual, mechanical, and acoustical upgrades, resulting in a much improved videoconferencing experience for users.

Acentech’s acoustics consulting services for this project ensured that the acoustic conditions of the renovated spaces complement the upgraded audiovisual systems. Acentech made recommendations on the design and placement of new mechanical systems to reduce background noise levels, specified the replacement of all acoustical ceiling tiles and sound absorptive finishes to achieve lower reverberation time and improve speech intelligibility, and worked with the architect to improve sound isolation between the Sullivan Chamber and its adjoining spaces.

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