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Architectural Acoustics: The Forgotten Dimension

The basic consideration of architectural acoustics - isolation from unwanted noise and vibration, control of mechanical system noise, and room acoustics design - are all clearly exemplified in Sabine's design for Boston Symphony Hall. Opened in 1900, this hall is one of the outstanding successes in musical acoustics. Yet, as we approach the hundredth anniversary of Sabine's first experiments, acoustical characteristics remain one of the least considered aspects of building design. This is due, in part, to the difficulty of visualizing the acoustical outcome of design decisions, complicated by individual judgment as to what constitutes good acoustics. However, the lack of a comprehensive teaching program remains the dominant problem. Significant advances over the past 2 or 3 decades in measurement and evaluation have refined the ability to design predictably and to demonstrate acoustical concerns to others. New techniques such as sound intensity measurement, new descriptors for room acoustics phenomena, and the refinement of recording, analysis and amplification techniques provide fresh insights into the behavior of sound in air and other media. These topics are reviewed with particular emphasis on the need for a comparable advance in particular emphasis on the need for a comparable advance in translation of acoustic principles into building technologies.

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