The 85,000 SF addition to Deerfield Academy’s Hess Center for the Arts was designed to support the demands of Deerfield’s growing arts and music departments. The addition contains a 175-seat concert hall, five new arts studios, a new art gallery and it increases the seating in the independent school’s main auditorium from 700 to 850 seats while also upgrading its lobby, stage technology, lighting, and acoustics. Furthermore, the renovations provide a new music recording studio, numerous new music practice rooms, a second dance studio, and new infrastructure for a black box theater.

Specifically designed for classical music performance and pedagogy, the new and striking 160-seat Elizabeth Wachsman Concert Hall is both intimate and warmly resonant, with adjustable features that allow users to vary the room’s acoustics to suit the occasion. Diligent sound isolation and an extraordinarily quiet mechanical system ensure that noise does not compete with the music.

Acentech’s Studio A provided architectural acoustics, mechanical systems noise and vibration control, and audiovisual system design consulting for the addition and renovation, which also includes several classrooms, music recording facilities, instrument rehearsal rooms, and art and architectural studio classrooms.

In addition to large video projection display systems compatible with today’s digital video standards, the audiovisual systems in the auditorium and the concert hall each include sound reinforcement systems that are tailored specifically for each space in order to optimize speech intelligibility and audio clarity. The audiovisual design also consists of video displays and audio playback systems for each classroom, wired and wireless backstage communications, and video and audio monitoring of the black box theater’s performance area in the lobby and green room.

Through careful use and specification of sound-absorbing materials, noise control of mechanical systems, and constructions that achieve excellent sound isolation, the project meets strict LEED requirements for acoustical performance and other stringent acoustical design goals.

“Thanks for this beautiful space. People were in tears, having never heard sound so beautiful.”
Peter Warsaw, Academic Dean and Director of Orchestra and the Chamber Music Program

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