On top of Beacon Hill in Boston, MA, the large golden dome of the Massachusetts State House shines bright. While the governing body of the Massachusetts Senate has evolved since it took residence under the golden dome, the historic Chamber itself had not seen a major renovation in over 120 years. In 2016, the Chamber began an extensive restoration project led by CBT Architects. Acentech’s acoustical and audiovisual consultants worked with the design team to ensure the renovated space met the needs of the people while also respecting and highlighting its rich history.

The Senate floor is a place of dynamic conversation and emerging ideas. To ensure the productive nature of discourse, Acentech’s acoustical consultants worked with the architect to achieve a high level of speech intelligibility. To reduce excess reverberation and to counter the sound-focusing effects of the room’s famous dome, sound absorbing panels were strategically placed between the ribs of the domed ceiling and along the walls of the chamber. Our consultants also recommended mechanical system noise and vibration control measures to ensure the new HVAC system would not impede upon the designed acoustical conditions.

Acentech’s audiovisual consultants designed and specified a new sound system. Placement of the loudspeakers and microphones required careful coordination with the architecture in order to reach the sound coverage and speech intelligibility goals while maintaining the historical design. Combined with the acoustic treatments, the system provides clear and audible sound throughout the space. The system also included an assistive listening system and video displays for viewing content from the Senate Chamber’s in-house video production studio. The team was able to modernize the Senate Chamber to become more inclusive, welcoming, and diverse while also preserving the historic elements and paying tribute to the past.

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