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Houses of Worship

SOUND INSPIRATION FOR THE WORSHIP SPACE
Hearing is Believing.
Our Acousticians and Acoustical Engineers are nationally respected authorities on acoustical environments for churches of all sizes, shapes, and denominations. No two congregations are identical; our advanced acoustical modeling software allows us to strategically place sound-reflection, absorption, and diffusion features in quantities and locations that support and enhance the specific worship style of each church. Every project is acoustically tested and verified to ensure a successful outcome.

As we are not the representatives of any acoustical material manufacturer, sound system equipment supplier, or building contractor, we are able to consult and advise in an objective manner with only the best interests of our clients in mind.

We are faithful to one goal: creating an acoustic environment that enlivens worship through the dynamic expression of speech and music.


Services Offered

Acoustical Consulting Services Include:

  • Acoustics Design for the Architectural Form and Interior Finishes
  • Acoustical Testing, Analysis, and Evaluation of Existing Spaces
    • Reverberation Time across frequency spectrum.
    • Ambient Noise Levels across frequency spectrum
    • Speech Intelligibility, Clarity
    • Acoustic Tone Projection & Distribution
    • Sound Transmission from Outdoors & Adjacent Spaces
  • Chancel & Music Area Design
  • Noise Control Engineering (Soundproofing)
  • Organ Chamber and Site Preparation Design
  • Audio (Sound) System Design Consultation
  • Audio (Sound) System Evaluation and Training
  • Video System Design

Architectural Services Include:

  • Drawing conversion from paper to AutoCAD
  • Development of AutoCAD Drawings for existing spaces
  • Pipe Organ Facade Design

Featured Projects

Acoustical Consulting Services Include:

St. Monica's Catholic Church
Dallas, Texas

The St. Monica's Church worship space is a round/concave shaped room. Originally, floors in the nave aisles were carpeted, and Sanctuary, Choir, and under-pew area flooring was hard surfaced. The concave perimeter walls were primarily glass, with hard surfaced sections between glass panels; these created unwanted echo reflections and "hot spot" sound focusing within the nave. The concave, asbestos clad ceiling surface was highly sound absorbing. The combined sound absorbing effects of the floor and ceiling materials resulted in a reverberation period too low to enhance organ and choral music, and too low to foster good participation by the assembly in sung and spoken liturgy.

The choir and organ space was separated from the main nave by a wood lattice wall that obstructed tone projection, and the former organ was a poorly executed attempt at a baroque tonality, with failing operating systems.

Acoustic improvements to the room include entirely hard surface marble/tile flooring and a sound reflective and diffusive ceiling deck, with sound diffusing wall features having discrete areas of absorbing treatment. The result is a live room that supports Catholic liturgy, with echoing and "hot-spot" focusing effects eliminated. The music area's obstructive lattice wall was removed, and sound reflective diffusers were added to blend tone amongst musicians, as well as to distribute music evenly throughout the nave. The sound system features an array of ceiling mounted speakers, along with special coverage speakers installed in discrete locations.

The new Nichols and Simpson four manual organ with primarily electric-slider action has five divisions. All pipework is located in a sound reinforcing chamber above and behind choir singers, wrapped in a façade designed by Frank Friemel.

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Before

After

South Main Baptist Church
Houston, Texas

The sanctuary at South Main Baptist Church is visually rich in artistic symbolism and architectural beauty. Biblical imagery is expressed in the design details of the room, and the glorious stained-glass windows bathe the space in color and light.

The church's previous organ façade and case did not match the architectural integrity of the room. Acoustic conditions were difficult and dull. Large amounts of carpeting, and restrictive organ chamber tone openings, along with limited and inflexible Chancel and Choir space, resulted in poorly blended and projected tone, and suppressed congregational participation in sung and spoken parts of the service. The concave ceiling geometric form caused acoustic "hot-spots" in the otherwise "dead" acoustic environment.

The acoustic re-design of the room included removing all carpeting and creating and restoring hard wood flooring throughout the space. Sound absorbing materials were installed within under-floor cavities to suppress foot fall noise. The Chancel and Choir areas were enlarged to created adequate and flexible space for liturgy and for choirs and instruments. Discrete sound diffusing features were added to some walls, and modest amounts of sound absorbing plaster were added to strategic portions of the ceiling for the purpose of eliminating unwanted echoes and "hot spot" sound focusing.

The organ chambers were re-configured, and finished in multiple layers of hard, dense gypsum board in order to reinforce the full range of pipe tone. Organ cases and facades, commensurate with the architectural style of the room, and complementary to the entirely new organ, were created by the Nichols & Simpson Organ Company. The organ blower room and air circulation system within the organ chambers received noise attenuating acoustic treatments.

Now the vibrant sounds of organ, instruments, choir, spoken word, and congregational participation in hymns and liturgy match the inspiring architectural setting.

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Photo by Mr. Thorsten Ott


Photo by Mr. Thorsten Ott

Peace Lutheran Church
St. Louis, Missouri

The Peace Lutheran Church building is newly constructed, incorporating classical elements with a modern interpretation. There is a "center aisle" congregational seating plan that yet wraps the broad Chancel. Musicians are located in a spacious rear gallery that accommodates choristers, woodwind, string, and brass players, a full range hand-bell choir, and a two manual and pedal mechanical action organ.

Flooring throughout the space is hard surface ceramic. The ceiling deck is lacquered/sealed wood, with discrete areas of sound absorbing treatment added to fine-tune the room's 2.2 Second Reverberation Period. The walls are primarily brick, set in a variegated geometric surface profile pattern that diffuses sound, and prevents focusing and echoes. Modest areas of sound absorbing cloth covered fiberglass wall inserts also tune the reverberation time. A spindle type baluster railing at the balcony edge allows music to transmit to the nave without obstruction.

The sound system uses traditional ceiling mounted loudspeakers with supplemental speakers in under-balcony areas of the room. Twin video screens flank the Chancel, and A/V controls are in the balcony.

The Martin Ott two manual and pedal organ has primarily mechanical key action with electric stop actions and a multi-level combination system. The organ is voiced in a modified neo-baroque style, and contains three electric unit action ranks to expand the use of its tonal resources. The console is detached from the case, with trackers running in a chase beneath the tiered choir risers.

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Before

Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church
Naples, Florida

The mid-century contemporary styled worship space at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church is octagonal in form. The pre-renovation space had carpeted flooring, a partially sound absorbing wood deck ceiling, and poor sound diffusion and some focusing due to the geometric form of the space. Choir singers and instrumentalists had difficulty hearing each other in the Chancel space, and the tall open tower above choir and organ caused both sound trapping and unwanted echo type reflections.

Acoustic renovations included changing carpeted floors to all sound reflective hard surface materials. Now the congregation can hear each other and participate well together in hymns and liturgy. Musicians also hear each other well for ensemble building, and carpets no longer absorb sound energy in spaces between the Chancel and listeners in the nave. The reverberation period in the room was significantly increased. Nave side walls have been detailed with architectural features that diffuse and distribute sound energy. The ceiling has also been re-configured to reflect and diffuse sound so that listeners receive blending and reinforced sound energy. Modest amounts of sound absorbing materials were applied on the ceiling deck of the open tower above choir and organ to prevent unwanted echo and focused reflections. The new and elegant Lively & Fulcher encased organ, on the center-front long axis of the room, now blends its tone into a cohesive chorus ensemble, with colorful solo stops offering an array of musical possibilities. The hard-wood lower organ case also serves as a diffusive "sounding board" for choir singers seated forward of the organ. Since the Chancel floor area has been reduced in height and laterally enlarged, proximities and musical presentations are more intimate, while also having greater flexibility for musical and liturgical use.

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Before

Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church
St. Louis, Missouri

Before the renovation of this worship space, the room's interior included fully carpeted nave flooring, carpeted choir riser flooring, and a bright neo-Baroque style organ located on the front wall of the Chancel. Conditions were poor for congregational participation in hymnody and sung and spoken parts of the service. Choir singers had considerable difficulty in hearing each other. Further, music did not project evenly or fully from the Chancel into the nave, and flutter echoes were audible in the Chancel due to the flat ceiling plane.

Acoustic improvements included the installation of hard surface flooring throughout the room, and the introduction of sound reflective and diffusing architectural features in the Chancel (frame and panel walls with a coffered ceiling). Modest sound absorbers were added to the front face of the rear balcony to clarify speech, by preventing echo type sound reflections. The result is now an increased reverberation period and "liveliness" in the room. There is vibrant participation by the congregation in hymns and liturgy, and choir and instrumentalists can hear each other as well as be heard throughout the nave. The new Schoenstein organ, located in side chambers flanking the Chancel, with pedal pipes hidden at the front wall, is scaled and voiced in the orchestral/romantic English/Scottish tradition, with tone that blends together and enwraps the listener.

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Before

St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Watertown, Wisconsin

St. Mark's Church is a recently and elegantly restored 1888 Victorian Gothic building. The choir sits in a "wrap-around" three sided balcony. The original encased mechanical action organ (from an unknown builder) still exists at the center/rear balcony, on the long axis of the room. An Austin organ was installed in 1924 (Opus 1224). The Swell division, with some Pedal stops, was placed in the historic balcony case. The Great, Choir and remaining Pedal stops were located in a chamber to the upper right of the Altar and Chancel. During the 1980's, the Austin Company rebuilt and altered the organ, adding new Principal Choruses and Reeds to the Great and Pedal Divisions, as well as changing out most of the Swell Division pipes to neo-Baroque/Germanic ranks. The combination of new and old pipes of differing musical styles and eras resulted in a lack of cohesion and balance. These musical challenges, along with difficulties in the electrical system, and decay of leathers necessitated a thorough repair, rebuilding, and re-organization of the instrument.

John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders were chosen to take on the project. All wind-chests were replaced with non-leathered electric-slider actions. All pipes were retained and re-voiced, with some re-scaled and re-purposed. Some new ranks were added, and the entire organ was installed within the central rear-balcony case. The case was enlarged to match the historic original portion by church members.

The instrument now has musical unity and integrity, with durable actions. The historic Austin console shell was retained, and outfitted with a new multi-feature electrical operating system. The visual presentation of case and facades are befitting of the historic room, and tone is projected evenly in the space on the long axis of the room.
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Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
(Roman Catholic)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Formerly, St. John Cathedral had a traditional long center aisle with fixed pews, and a forward Sanctuary with a baldachin covered altar, as well as a free-standing altar. The very small rear balcony contained a 4 manual electric action Noehren pipe organ, with little remaining space for choir singers or instrumentalists. Floors and walls were hard surface terrazzo and marble, and the ceiling deck was a moderately sound absorbing composition tile material. A large and unsightly sound system speaker cluster was suspended from the forward ceiling.

The liturgical renewal of the space included the positioning of a single central altar, a baptismal font and pool near the main entrance, a single ambo for proclamation of the word, and movable chair seating for the assembly. The former forward Sanctuary is now the music ministry plaza, with adequate space for cantor, organ case and console, choir singers, piano, and instrumentalists. A new Nichols and Simpson encased organ is placed at the front of the room, at the Apse/former Sanctuary, behind the choir singers. The new four manual “front” console controls both the Apse and balcony organs. Three digital line-array sound system speakers serve the entire space from discrete locations aside columns, and the ceiling deck has been hardened.

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Before

St. Luke's Episcopal Church
Durham, North Carolina

The St. Luke Church worship space is as square room having relatively short wall heights, and with the altar set beneath the central peak of the pyramidal roof. While the floor plan facilitates an intimate seating arrangement focusing on the altar, the square and pyramidal geometric form makes even sound distribution difficult to achieve. Further, the floor was partly carpeted, and the ceiling was entirely clad in sound absorbing "Tectum" material, so the "dead: environment did not support vibrant speech, inspiring music, or participation by the congregation in sung and spoken liturgy. The church's small neo-Baroque style organ with low wind pressure, narrow scaling, and few 8' or 16' stops, did not have the capacity to lead hymnody or accompany the choir well.

Acoustic improvements included re-surfacing the ceiling deck with hard and sound reflective materials, and changing from carpet to slate flooring, all to increase the reverberation period. Further, brick features were added to side walls to diffuse sound energy and eliminate flutter echoes.

A used/heritage Möller pipe organ, having electric-slider action as well as a stop-list and pipe scaling/voicing attributes commensurate to the St. Luke space and choral liturgy, was reconditioned and installed into an enlarged organ chamber on the central axis of the room, behind choir singers.
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Grace Episcopal Church
Sandusky, Ohio

The new three-manual and pedal pipe organ at Grace Church is an electric-slider action instrument of 44 Resisters and 60 Ranks. Some of the pipe work is new, and some are heritage ranks retained from the church previous instrument. That was a mechanical action Johnson organ from the 1800's, that had been significantly modified over the years, and including the later addition of an electro-pneumatic action Antiphonal Division placed in the church's rear balcony.

The right-side of Sanctuary main organ case was structurally reinforced, with all new wind-chests and expression boxes fitted within. The new electric console is positioned now at the opposite side of the Sanctuary and Choir from the organ case, so the organist now hears direct tonal projection and balance (the former console was on the same side of the Sanctuary as the organ case, beneath its cantilevered façade, such that the organist had no direct hearing and perception of organ tone or balance). All finishes are white and mahogany to match the building's historic architecture. Pipe shades and some façade pipes are painted in historic colors found in the church's stained glass windows.
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Community Church of Vero Beach
Vero Beach, Florida

The Community Church worship space is a "fan shaped" auditorium type room. Originally, congregation area floors were carpeted, and the rear perimeter walls were primarily clad in sound absorbing cloth covered fiber-glass acoustic panels. The ceiling was made of coffered plaster, and choir and organ were located to the upper left of the Chancel platform. The former organ was a neo-baroque mechanical action instrument. The low reverberation period in the space did not enhance choral and organ music, nor did it foster good congregational participation in hymns and sung or spoken liturgy.

The expanded music program of the church required additional and flexible choir seating to accommodate the wide shift between "high" and "low" seasonal attendance. Further, a larger organ, romantically conceived, but capable of setting forth a wide range of compositional styles and eras, was desired. The sound system was aging, and designed to accommodate the room's low reverberation period.

Acoustic improvements to the room include primarily hard surface flooring, with carpet only in select aisles, and sound reflective walls featuring hard, dense construction and uniquely engineered sound diffusing surface profiles. Retractable curtains are installed at the rear of the room to adjust the reverberation period for the high and low seasonal attendance shifts. Ceiling surfaces were hardened and sealed. The reverberation period is now at 2.0 Seconds. The new sound system features an array of ceiling mounted speakers, along with special coverage speakers installed within the chancel steps, and monitor speakers to serve those seated at the Chancel and Choir. The system also includes comprehensive sound, video, and recording applications and controls to serve worship, theatrical productions and concerts.

The new Lively & Fulcher organ is located in twin chambers and cases at the rear of the Chancel, above and behind the choir risers. The action is electric-slider, and the movable French terraced draw-knob console has a complete multi-level combination system. The Lively & Fulcher Organ Company also built the matching chancel and choir liturgical furnishings, seating, and wood wall and cabinetry work.
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Christ Presbyterian Church
Madison, Wisconsin

Christ Presbyterian Church is a 1980's Contemporary Style building situated on the shore of Lake Mendota in the state's Capitol City. Both traditional and contemporary music styles, along with a variety of theatrical and musical productions are all presented in the room. The worship space's original acoustic challenges included a too low reverberation period that did not enhance music or support congregational sung and spoken participation in the service. Carpeted floor areas, along with the presence of flutter echoes and excessive HVAC background noise, further diminished the acoustic environment.

The church's heritage Möller organ is located in the rear gallery, with an Antiphonal division at the front of the space, above and behind the Chancel. The tone of the Antiphonal division was severely obstructed by dense tone grille fabrics and other sound trapping building features.

Acoustic renovation design elements include increasing the amount of hard surface floor areas, the use of sound reflective/diffusing nave side-wall profiles, and the application of sound absorbing material to the rear balcony face. The front Reredos wall of the Chancel has been reconfigured to allow Antiphonal organ tone to project to the nave without obstruction, and the carefully angled and partially sound absorbing flanking walls of the chancel serve to project and balance contemporary and traditional music. The HVAC system was altered to reduce air speed and attenuate noise.

The new digital audio system allows easy transition from contemporary to traditional service styles, and employs a line array speaker system with a hidden subwoofer. An indicative loop hearing assistance system and video projection onto Chancel walls complete the A/V package.

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Before

St. Peter Catholic Church
Slinger, Wisconsin

Slinger, Wisconsin (originally called Schleisingerville before 1920) was a small town in the rural hills of southeastern Wisconsin. Today it is a growing commuter suburb of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. St. Peter's Catholic Church is an 1800's gothic style structure with a classic tall steeple, a handsome set of wood carved furnishings, and a fifteen rank pipe organ in the rear gallery that was built by the Schaefer Company of Slinger. It has been modified over the years with a new electrical system, console, and pipe alterations. By 2016 the Parish had out-grown the 360 seat worship space, and decided to enlarge the current building to over 600 seats, while maintaining their historic architecture and furnishings.

The structure was expanded by with large transepts added to both sides of the nave. Acoustic features include new matching hard plaster walls and vaulted ceilings, and all hard surface flooring, resulting in an average of 2.8 Seconds Reverberation Period. Discrete sound absorbing treatments are disguised within two ceiling bays to prevent echoes. The wood and glass walls at the rear of the nave are canted with wood frame detailing to prevent echo reflections and to diffuse sound energy.
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St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Marion, Iowa

St. Mark's Lutheran Church is a congregation that offers a wide variety of worship opportunities and styles. As the project began, the church had one worship space in which they were conducting Traditional, Blended, Contemporary and "High Impact" services. The room contained theater style stadium seating, large areas of carpeted flooring, sound absorbing wall panels and curtains, video screens, and a mechanical action organ that had been moved from the congregation's former church building. Though the effort was made via architectural detailing and A/V system design to meet the needs of the varying worship and music styles, the room met the needs of none well.

It was decided to create two separate worship spaces on the Church campus so that each space could be designed and detailed to serve their respective worship and music styles with excellence. A new building was constructed for traditional worship, and the existing space was re-designed and outfitted for the contemporary services.

The new building, "Worship Center II", is a long, tall, "center aisle" room with hard surface flooring throughout, sound reflective and diffusing reinforced gypsum board walls, and a metal ceiling deck that features sound reflective "clouds" above the Chancel and Choir spaces. Speakers are carefully located and aimed to deliver speech to the congregation seating area, but to avoid unwanted sound reflections from other building surfaces. All A/V sytems were designed by Dave Hosbach of DSH Audio-Visions. The rear wall of the room is equipped to contain a retractable curtain so that the room's reverberation period can be altered and "tuned" to accommodate light attendance, or occasional contemporary music use. The maximum Reverberation Period in the room is slightly above 2.0 Seconds, achieving excellent conditions for congregational singing, choral and organ music, and for speech clarity.

The 50+ voice choir is seated in the chancel on tiered hardwood risers that have interior treatment to suppress foot-fall noise. Twin organ chambers flank the center Chancel window.

The organ installed into the chambers is the restored E.M. Skinner three manual and pedal, 26 rank instrument, Opus 695, built in 1928 for St. John's Lutheran in the Bronx, New York. The organ was available for sale due to the closure of St. John's congregation. Skinner organ Opus 695 was restored and reinstalled into the new St. Mark's Church by the J.L. Weiler Organ Company of Chicago in conjunction with assistance from the Organ Clearing House.
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Pilgrim Lutheran Church
Carmel, Indiana

The new two-manual and pedal pipe organ at Pilgrim Church is an electric-slider action instrument of 31 Resisters and 37 Ranks. The church building, also recently designed by architect John Munson, has a generous cubic air volume, with tall ceiling heights and a spacious rear loft containing choir and organ. The electric-slider action instrument has a wood case that is commensurate with the building's interior décor. The façade features polished tin Diapason ranks, and copper Festival Trumpets. The movable console is on the first level of the tiered choir loft, where the organist has direct and intimate hearing of both organ and singers.
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Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Buffalo, New York

The Holy Trinity church organ was originally installed by the M.P. Möller Company in 1949, and had 43 ranks of pipes in chambers flanking the Chancel. Over the years the instrument was enlarged by various Organ Companies, bringing the total rank count to over 150, along with some digital voices. Additions were made within the Chancel chambers, and in the rear gallery of the church. By the early 2000's, the organ was suffering from wear and age, particularly due to decaying leathers. Maintenance and access were extremely difficult, because the placement of addition pipes and equipment over the years obstructed walk-boards, ladders, and access ways.

The Parsons Organ rebuilding project included replacing all original and added wind-chests with new electric-slider (non-leather) actions, and the reconfiguration of wind-chest and wind ducting layouts within the chambers to facilitate maintenance and tuning accessibility. A new tone opening was created to improve tonal egress from the right-side chambers. Most of the organ's pipes were retained, restored, and re-voiced, while some pipes were replaced.

The rich heritage of Holy Trinity Church's organ has been retained and renewed, and improvements to the layout and replacement of wind-chest actions will assure dependable durability for decades to come. Rebuilding of the Gallery divisions was not included in this 2016 Parsons project.
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First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant
Erie, Pennsylvania

The First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant is a Gothic style structure, built in 1930. Walls and floors are of stone, but the original ceiling was constructed of perforated metal panels with sound absorbing fibrous backing. The reverberation period was lower than desired for choral and organ music, and robust hymn singing. A previous attempt to reduce the sound absorbing effects of the ceiling failed when the canvas sheets glued over the perforated panels delaminated and fell. All sound absorbing ceiling panels have now been replaced with reinforced and rigid gypsum board inserts. The result is an increased reverberation period, especially at low frequencies, that enhances the full range of music and hymn singing. Choir singers have also been re-oriented into an "ensemble" seating arrangement at the front of the room, with space for instrumentalists in the now flexibly furnished Chancel. There are new wood sound reflector-diffusers installed behind and beside the singers; these reflector-diffusers are designed to match the architectural style of the room's existing original wood features. The previous sound system provided poor speech intelligibility and room coverage. The new system has multiple visually discrete "line-array" column speakers that are "zoned" to deliver clear, intelligible speech to all seating locations. The new sound system is all digital in its operation, having a large mixing console with pre-sets for simplicity of operation. Its capabilities include full speech reinforcement, light music reinforcement, and recording. A video system has been prepared to have record and projection functions.

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Photo by Bob Ervin


Photo by Bob Ervin

St. Peter's Catholic Church
Omaha, Nebraska

St. Peter's Catholic Church is a large scale Greco-Roman Basilica style building with an acoustic environment that did not support liturgical Catholic worship. The reverberation period was too low to enhance music or to encourage participation by the assembly in sung and spoken Mass parts. The "dead" and dull acoustic ambiance did not match the vibrant decorative style and grand visual scale of the room. The nave's previous interior finishes included carpeted aisle and under pew flooring, with marble flooring only in the Sanctuary. The barrel vaulted ceiling was entirely clad in sound absorbing acoustical tile. Highly decorated and detailed walls were hard plaster however.

Room acoustic re-design recommendations and specifications include:

  • Use of hard surface flooring throughout the nave and sanctuary, including spaces in aisles and under pews, to increase the Reverberation Period for the benefit of traditional music styles, and to facilitate the assembly's participation.
  • Replacement of the sound absorbing acoustical ceiling tile with hard plaster coffered and sound diffusive treatments to enhance the reverberation period, and to be appropriate to the architectural heritage and style of the room.
  • The placement of modest sound absorbing cloth covered fiberglass treatments at rear and side wall regions in the space to "fine tune" the reverberation period, and to prevent unwanted flutter and echo reflections. The cloth covers are dyed to match the plaster paint colors, for the purpose of blending seamlessly into the architecture of the space.
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Faith Lutheran Church
New Providence, New Jersey

Faith Lutheran Church's worship space is as a long and fairly narrow "A Frame" style building with reasonably tall side walls. Original interior materials included a softwood ceiling deck with some tiled and some carpeted floor areas. The rear choir loft had a high, solid railing and side vestibules that obstructed and trapped sound energy. The former organ was in its core a Tellers electro-pneumatic unit instrument with other used ranks added over the years. This organ was located in a Masonite clad chamber at the rear of the balcony.

The growing and vibrant music program of the church generated the need for additional and flexible space to accommodate the parish's many musical ensembles which include full choirs, bell choirs, and instrumental ensembles. Further, a larger, durable and reliable organ, with sufficient musical resources to lead the sung liturgy and support and accompany a variety of musical styles was desired.

Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout along with sealed and hardened wood surfaces, and multiple layers of dense, sound reflective wall materials. The balcony was enlarged with a cantilever overhanging only two rear of nave pews. The balcony also now has a sound transmitting wood baluster railing.

The new Glück organ is located in an elevated case at the rear of the balcony, with sound transparent grill material flanking the case to facilitate tonal egress from pedal ranks adjoining the case. The action is electric-slider with some unit actions. The movable side-jamb stop tab console has a complete multi-level combination system. The organ employs some restored and rebuilt pipe work from the previous Faith Church organ, along with re-purposed pipes from the Glück stock, as well as new ranks. Faith Lutheran Church

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St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church
Blowing Rock, North Carolina

The desire for an improved acoustic environment at St. Mary of the Hills Church was occasioned by the church's purchase of a new Lively-Fulcher pipe organ. The English cottage style building had a too low Reverberation Period for the enhancement of music rendition or for the support of the congregation in sung and spoken liturgy. The room is not large enough, or with sufficiently tall walls to achieve a truly "live" reverberance, but it was also not functioning at its maximum potential. Primary challenges were the thin finish wall material, the unsealed softwood ceiling deck, and the presence of heavy wood trusses that obstructed sound distribution down the Nave.

A related but separate issue was the partial bowing of side walls from the weight of the roof truss structural system.

Acoustic renovations included the hardening and sealing of the wood ceiling deck, the stiffening of side walls with double layers of gypsum board, and the replacement of the roof trusses with those of reduced girth and higher mounting in the overhead space. Further, walls and ceiling in the organ case/chamber and choir areas were strengthened with three layers of glued and fastened gypsum board to reinforce and reflect musical sound energy. Discrete ceiling mounted reflectors were also placed above the Choir to project tone down the long nave. Insulated and laminated glass was specified to attenuate the noise of exterior mounted HVAC equipment from transmitting into the worship space.

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First Presbyterian Church
Birmingham, Michigan

Before the building renovation and new organ project, First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham suffered from a common American acoustic defect; a too low reverberation period caused by the presence of sound absorbing carpets and wall panels. Further, music rendition was poor, due to the side oriented organ chambers, with sound trapping side passages adjoining the Chancel. The smooth, curved ceiling form also created sound "hotspots", tonal focusing, and "echo" type effects.

Acoustic re-design features include all hard surface flooring, sound reflective and diffusing wall surface treatments, and coffered ceiling reflectors. Choirsingers now have tiered risers in an ensemble "horse-shoe" format to facilitate tonal blend and projection. Chancel walls are angled and detailed to blend tone and direct reinforced musical sound toward the nave. All interior surfaces are hard and structurally dense to assure reinforcement of sound energy across the full frequency range.

The new Nichols & Simpson organ is encased at the front wall of the room, such that both choir and organ sing from the end of the long axis of the space.

Custom designed wind ducts were installed to deliver nave temperature make-up air to the organ blower, while preventing blower noise from being heard in the worship space.

The sound system includes line array speakers, selected for their ability to provide speech clarity in the room with a now generous reverberation period. The system also has full recording and playback capabilities.

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St Andrew's Chapel
Sanford, Florida

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Designers, Pipe Organ Consultants

This new building, of historic Gothic inspiration, but constructed of entirely modern materials, has arches, columns, vaults, transepts, and clerestory windows. The architects designed a steel superstructure, and clad it with pre-formed and composite newly developed materials. Our acoustical task was to create a very classic room for natural, non-electronically reinforced choral, organ and instrumental music with a generous, even, and warm reverberation period. This was achieved with the use of primarily hard, dense, sound reflective and reinforcing materials and treatments. Hard composite material finishes, multiple layers of dense wall components, sealed surface textures, and diffuse, multi-faceted surface forms and profiles were employed throughout the space. Hard tile, wood, and brick flooring, along with closely spaced structural framing, angled and diffusive wall and ceiling geometries have all been incorporated into this classically styled new building. Further, the building is fully equipped with state of the art sound and video system components. The nave's sound system delivers clear, intelligible speech to worshippers in every corner of the vast, live room. Complete sound and video recording, mixing, and broadcast technologies have been provided to facilitate the many media based education and ministry programs of this dynamic congregation.

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Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church
Louisville, Kentucky

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Design Consultants

Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church was a basically functional worship environment, but lacked adequate flexible space for musicians and worship leaders. Further, the room suffered from uninspiring acoustics that did not enhance music or hymn singing participation. Side wall and ceiling wood trusses obstructed tone projection, while carpeted floors and the softwood ceiling deck absorbed important sound energy. The remodeled space includes hared floor surfaces and sound reflective and diffusing reinforced gypsum board diffusers added between the ceiling trusses. Real sounding facade pipes were added to the organ, and the Chancel music and liturgical space is enlarged with flexible furnishings.

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St. Jerome Catholic Church
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Designers, Pipe Organ Consultants

"We want our new church to 'look like a church'"; this was one of the primary design parameters that governed Groth Design Group Architects in the planning of the new — large St. Jerome worship space. Indeed, this traditionally styled and proportioned room, outfitted with modern technologies, is a modern "classic". Columns, colonnades, rose windows, and tracery abound. The hard surfaced paint stenciled walls and ceiling, and herringbone pattern marble floors result in a "live" acoustical environment that encouraged congregational song. The traditional upper rear choir loft and encased Berghaus electric-slider wind chest organ facilitate a creative liturgical music program. The organ also features an Antiphonal division at the Sanctuary for small group and Cantor accompaniment. The sound system has multiple speakers nestled amongst ceiling trusses, aimed to delivery clear speech to all seating locations.

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Martin Luther College Chapel of the Christ
New Ulm, Minnesota

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Design Consultants

The Martin Luther College Chapel has been designed to serve many and various campus functions. Primarily, it is the main site for Worship, but concerts, lectures, symposiums, and a variety of other college events happen within the space. A large encased Schantz pipe organ is placed just behind the tiered choir risers that are embraced with sound reflective and diffusing "band shell" type walls. Musical and liturgical sound is reinforced and enhanced by the generous reverberation period (above 2.0 Seconds) that results from the stiffened gypsum board walls and ceilings, along with hard tile flooring. Sound diffusing wall profiles and wood wall insert details diffuse reflected tone to become both balanced and enveloping. The selection of structural features and materials, and the design of the mechanical systems prevent interruption from unwanted background noise.

Keys to the acoustical success of the room are its large cubic air volume, "long axis" location of choir and organ, and use of hard, dense, sound reflective materials, all within a modern expression of classic architectural forms and principles.

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Moorings Presbyterian Church
Naples, Florida

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Designers, Pipe Organ Consultants

Moorings Presbyterian congregation has built an inspiring all new worship space. The former building, with low ceilings, carpeted floors, and an imitation organ, lacked the dynamic vitality that the new room exemplifies. The new Nichols & Simpson organ is placed in commodious chambers with encased facades on the long axis of the room. The James Boughton architects seamlessly integrated sound reflective and diffusing forms into the architecture. There are only modest areas of carpet, with all other surfaces hard and sound reflective. The resulting over 2.0 Second reverberation period enhances music and supports clear speech via the ceiling mounted, distributed speaker sound system. Attendance rates during worship vary significantly across the year, due to the influx of "northern snow birds" during the high season. Therefore, retractable sound absorbing curtains and alterable sound system programming can shift the room's acoustical environment, depending on the occupancy rates.

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St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Franklin, Tennessee

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Design Consultants

The all new worship space at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church is a traditionally conceived space; long, tall, narrow, cruciform, with a "center aisle" congregational seating layout. Choir and organ are located behind the Chancel and Altar at the front, on the long axis of the room. This classic room form and layout is ideal for traditional musical styles and liturgies.

The re-purposed Aeolian-Skinner organ (from the former Episcopal Cathedral in Kalamazoo, Michigan) stands in a tall case, above and behind the choir singers. The choir area has ensemble oriented tiered risers, along with space for instrumentalists.

Room finishes include multiple gypsum board layered dense walls for sound reflection and reinforcement. Hard surface flooring, a sealed, hard-wood ceiling deck, and discrete upper rear wall absorbers (to temper unwanted hard echo reflections) all combine to produce a reverberation period that enhances music and fosters robust participation in hymns and liturgy by the congregation.

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Additional Projects

Mayflower Congregational Church (show)

St. Hedwig Catholic Church (show)

First Presbyterian Church Gallatin (show)

Salem United Church of Christ (show)

St. John Lutheran Church Park Rapids (show)

Christ Church, Episcopal Delavan (show)

Christ UCC Milwaukee (show)

Luther Memorial Chapel (show)

Pilgrim Lutheran Church (show)

Christ Church, Episcopal (show)

The Lutheran School of Theology (show)

First Presbyterian Church (show)

St. Mark's Lutheran Church (show)

St. Matthew Lutheran Church (show)

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (show)

First Congregational United Church of Christ (show)

First Presbyterian Church (show)

Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church (show)

Bishop Spencer Place Chapel (show)

Church of the Resurrection (show)

First English Lutheran Church (show)

First Presbyterian Church (show)

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (show)

Hope United Church of Christ (show)

St. Catherine Episcopal Church (show)

St. James Episcopal Church (show)

St. Peter's United Church of Christ (show)

Christ Church, Episcopal (show)

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (show)

St. Anthony the Hermit Catholic Church (show)

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (show)

Cathedral of Christ the King (show)

St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (show)

St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church (show)

First-Plymouth Congregational Church (show)

Basilica of Holy Hill (show)

Boe Chapel, St. Olaf College (show)

Emmanuel Baptist Church (show)

First Baptist Church (show)