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Avery Fisher Hall (David Geffen Hall) - Max Abromovitz

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Presentation by Kelly Franklin

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Avery Fisher Hall (David Geffen Hall) - Max Abromovitz

  1. 1. SYMPHONY HALL PRECEDENT Kelly Franklin · ARC 6355
  2. 2. Photo by D. Ramey Logan A MID-CENTURY MODERN TAKE ON CLASSIC Full height glass windows create permeability between the courtyard and interior The Hall’s spacious lobbies afford wraparound views of Lincoln Center campus.
  3. 3. GRAND PROMENADE The grand promenade is frequently used for events. Its style has been described as “1960’s Cultural Acropolis Classique”
  4. 4. BUILDING AUDITORIUM STAGE HOUSE 260’ 183’ 93’ 167’ 85’ 55’ 41’ 54’ 36’ 126’ 85’ 55’ LENGTH WIDTH HEIGHT 1 2 2 2 21 from Google Earth from Beranek, Leo. Concert Halls & Opera Houses: How They Sound. Woodbury: Acoustical Society of America. 1996. 720,300 81,000VOLUME 3 ft 3 ft 230 3 ft per audience member avg.avg. avg.
  5. 5. 2,732 SEATS • 1,640 ground floor • 348 first tier • 364 second tier • 380 third tier
  6. 6. 183’ 260’
  7. 7. Auditorium PLAN 126’ 41’ 85’ 58’ 48’
  8. 8. 55’ 82’ 36’ 55’ AVG.
  9. 9. ELEVATION
  10. 10. Home to New York Philharmonic, as well as host to a number of visiting orchestras. Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts among the first televised performance from the hall. Miles Davis – 1964; Simon & Garfunkel – 1967; Queen – 1975. Hall is frequent location for graduation ceremonies and other events. NOT JUST A SYMPHONY HALL Plans for major renovation of the auditorium in 2019 to make it a more adaptable performance space.
  11. 11. 1962 The New York Philharmonic Architect Max Abromovitz designed a new International style home for New York’s symphony orchestra. Leo Beranek was acoustical consultant. He recommended a “shoebox” design with narrowly- spaced parallel sides to seat 2,400. The plans called for placing the farthest seats an intimate 138 feet from the stage, with low balconies putting the highest seat only 45 feet above the stage. Critics clamored for the seating equivalent of Carnegie Hall (then scheduled for demolition ), and capacity was increased to 2,738 seats late in the design stage, necessitating changes to the building’s volume and shape that invalidated much of the acoustical planning. BUILT RENAMED1973 Avery Fisher Hall Renamed after a prominent benefactor involved in making hi-fi sound equipment who donated $10M to support a major redesign. 19632M of adjustments made to try and improve hall acoustics None of the attempts to tune the hall worked 1965 1972 1964 1969 The seating capacity is too large and the sidewalls are too far apart to provide early reflections to the center seats. The ceiling is high, increasing reverberation time, but the clouds are too high to adequately reinforce early reflections. The bass is weak because the very large stage does not adequately reinforce the low string instruments. R.C. Ehle, Music Teacher International Magazine article “ ” The orchestra sounded dry and lifeless. Rather than being immersed in the sound, audience members felt it emanate from the stage. There was no sense of being in a room filled with music. There were dead spots, and too little bass compared to treble. Some seat locations heard echoes, others barely heard anything. If it was bad for the audience, it was worse for the musicians who could not hear what they or others were playing. Bruce Bliven, “A Better Sound” in The New Yorker “ ” The hall got scathing reviews:
  12. 12. 3 5 1976 Major Redesign Cyril Harris, an acoustics expert, worked with project architect Philip Johnson and a major renovation that included demolishing the inside of the hall and rebuilding a new hall within the outside framework and façade. This redesign achieved a warmer, more encompassing sound. But the brasses remained bright, and the bass was weak. Musicians also reported problems hearing each other. GUTTED The reconstruction of Philharmonic Hall is said to have changed the acoustics of the space tremendously. The resulting sound was hailed as by critics as “sumptuous,” “warm,” “full,” “voluptuous,” and “lively.” These were ways of describing an effect that Harris had been aiming for all along: the ability to feel the music in the floor and around oneself, the feeling of being engulfed in sound. Josh Hudelson, A Musical Miscarriage “ ” Addressing the Stage Acoustics Solid maple concave surfaces were installed on the stage’s side walls and ceiling to help focus sound from different parts of the stage evenly toward the audience and the performers themselves. 3” fiberglass ”pillows” were added to the sides to deaden vibrations. Retractable glass shelves were placed above the pillows to allow tuning. A stepped oval glass reflector was added above the stage to direct sound toward the audience, and a small platform was placed at the rear of the stage to provide adjustable sound control for performers. RESURFACED1992 2015 Hall Renamed. $500 Million Overhaul Initiated. The hall was rechristened The David Geffen Hall in September, 2015, when the donor gave $100 million toward a planned $500 million interior overhaul to commence in 2019. The goal is to modify the space to serve as a multi-purpose performance hall, with a reconfigurable performance area (thrust stage, proscenium, theater in the round) , enhanced acoustics, better aesthetics, a socially-inviting foyer, more rehearsal space, and possibly more seating. REVAMP PLANNED 2005 New York Philharmonic pursued returning to Carnegie Hall. Talks abandoned.
  13. 13. Abramovitz changed the design of the balconies, having them dramatically sweep down toward the stage rather than gradually step-down as Beranek had recommended and the building committee had approved. IN MUSIC, TERRACED DYNAMICS ARE “A Sudden or Dramatic Shift” By bulging the side walls of the hall out into a barrel shape, the architect managed to fit 258 more seats onto the main floor. But these concave walls created major acoustical problems. AS DESIGNED AS BUILT To address the steeper slope of the balconies, Beranek added more individually adjustable reflective ceiling clouds, extending over most of the audience (a change that had disastrous acoustical effects). To compensate for the concave walls, Beranek specified wooden diffusers on the walls to minimize the focusing effect . For budgetary reasons, these were omitted.
  14. 14. PHOTO CAPTION Original “clouds” Clouds removed in 1969 Angled maple replacements “Examination of the plan and section reveals several anomalies. The main floor rake was shallow, the balcony overhangs excessive, and the rear wall is concave in both plan and section, which encouraged echoes back to the stage. The curvature on the side walls meant that there some focusing at the rear of the stalls, and that many stall seats received no lateral reflections. Finally, a peculiarity of the stage design is its remarkable size, enough for about 170 musicians, which probably left orchestras too widely dispersed. But many of these features were found elsewhere, and... even in combination they do not seem sufficient to produce such disappointing acoustics. Barron’s analysis of the 1962 acoustical problems… Michael Barron. Auditorium Acoustics in Architectural Design. Taylor & Francis, 1993, p. 95. LOOK OUT FOR THE CLOUDS The major fault, which was soon isolated, related to the behavior of the suspended reflectors ("clouds"). Owing to the small size and regularity of the double layer of reflector panels, the array did not reflect bass sound. In addition, the low percentage of open area (less than 50% in the Philharmonic Hall vs. the recommended minimum open of 70%) created a poorly coupled acoustic space above the array, inhibiting reverberation. The problematic clouds were removed in 1969 and replaced with a stepped ceiling. In 1992, solid maple concave surfaces were installed on the side walls and suspended from the stage ceiling.
  15. 15. REQUIREMENTS • Low ambient noise • Reasonable acoustic gain • Reverberation time of ≈ 2 seconds • Avoid artifacts such as echo DEFECTS • Echo • Delayed reflection • Sound shadow • Sound concentration VARIABLES • Shape • Size (dimensions, volume, capacity) • Surface layout • Materials (textured vs. flat; absorbent vs. reflective) SHAPE • Shoebox is best for music to avoid flutter echoes. • Splayed side walls reflect sound to the rear of the hall. • Splays should be avoided in concert halls, but if must splay, 30°- 60° BALCONY • Ideally, depth = height (2x height is max. to avoid acoustical shadows). • Add reflecting surfaces to underside of balcony. • Place absorptive panels on the front of balcony parapets. Adapted from Momin Zaki, Auditorium Acoustics.
  16. 16. (contInuED) ABSORPTION • Audiences provide most of the absorption, so room surfaces can be relatively reflective. CEILING • Ceiling reflectors (“clouds”) direct sound to the audience. Length and width of cloud panels should be at least 5x wavelength of lowest frequency to be reflected. • Ideal height = ⅓ to ½ of room width. • Avoid concave ceiling surfaces to prevent sound foci. FLOORS • A sloping (raked) floor allows less absorption, and improves sight lines. • Generally, slope of performance hall should be at least 8°, but not more than 35°. WALLS • Concave shapes focus sound. Avoid concave rear walls. • Side walls should avoid parallelism . Tilt or splay wall surfaces to direct and diffuse reflected. • Stage and front of hall should be reflective; rear should be absorptive. Volume • Impacts reverberation and loudness. Aim for 275 cubic feet per seat (220 –380 range). DIMENSIONS • The maximum recommended distance from back seat to stage is 130 feet. REFLECTION • Audiences provide most of the absorption, so room surfaces can be relatively reflective. • Reflective front stage area provides strong early reflections that enhance sound. Conversely, late reflections and reverberations from rear walls produce echoes. Adapted from Momin Zaki, Auditorium Acoustics.
  17. 17. The acoustical failings of the initial1962 New York Philharmonic hall can be attributed to: • Sharply angled overhanging balconies trapped sound and created dead spots. The stage’s sound issues after the1976 redesign were caused by: • The curvature of the side walls which focused sound to the rear and inhibited lateral reflections. The wooden diffusers which were specified to address this issue were omitted for budgetary reasons. • The small regular “clouds” in the ceiling did not reflect bass. Additionally, the lack of open space above the cloud array inhibited reverberation. • Adding more seats reduced the volume to 230 cu. ft. per audience member, which is at the low end for concert hall and may have impacted loudness and reverberation time adversely. • Lack of variety in shape and material of stage ceiling diffusers. • Need for additional diffusers on the side of the stage.
  18. 18. The operative word being “designed”. The architect and sound engineer fell victim to public pressure to expand the seating within the initial footprint and budget constraints. The late changes in the form and layout destroyed the hall’s acoustics. Although it may be a chimera, for the next phase of its existence, the New York Philharmonic Hall, a.k.a Avery Fisher Hall, a.k.a David Geffen Hall will attempt to become a chameleon – expanding its remit to serve as a multi-use performing arts center, perhaps with a larger capacity, certainly with a more flexible stage configuration, and definitely with a better acoustical experience than it has delivered for much of its storied 50-year history. Whether it is possible to serve all of those purposes in an envelope that has never fully succeeded as a symphony hall is a challenging puzzle for the next set of architects. As an object lesson in “what not to do”, the sad tale of the 9 different attempts to right the initial wrong is illuminating. The New York Philharmonic was the among the first concert halls designed with modern acoustical principles. Architecturally, the hall is a paragon of mid-century modern design, and from that perspective, it was successful from the outset. The modern design era was premised on openness, adaptability, and democratization. The transparency of the design of the Avery Fisher hall helped join the music experience on the interior with the outside life of the city. Younger crowds gathered in the plaza – it became a “scene”. But the way orchestral music “should” be experienced is deeply rooted in a tradition that historically dictated a fixed set of design requirements. Says Edward Rothstein of the New York Times, “Other musics visit the concert hall; they are not at home in it.”.
  19. 19. Abramovitz, Max: “Oral History,” Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. Oral History Project; begun June 20, 1990. Ashton, Allan. Acoustic Architecture. Honors Thesis, Brown University, 2003. Bliven, Bruce: “Annals of Architecture, A Better Sound,” The New Yorker; November 8, 1976. Beranek, Leo L.. Concert and Opera Halls: How They Sound, Woodbury, New York: Acoustical Society of America. 1996. Ehle, Robert C., "What Does It Take to Make a Good Hall for Music?" Music Teacher International Magazine. K. Agency – Floor Plan Drawings. http://thekagency.com/event- spaces/avery-fisher-hall-at-lincoln-center/ Harris, Cyril M.: “Oral History.” Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. Oral History Project; begun Dec. 18, 1990. Hudelson, Josh. A Musical Miscarriage: Philharmonic Hall and the Soundscape of Midtown Manhattan. NYU Ph.D. candidate Pogrebin, Robin. “Philharmonic to Give Home a New Interior.” The New York Times; May 20, 2004. Rothstein, Edward: "If Music Is the Architect, the Results May Be Less Than Melodious." The New York Times, May 22, 2004. Thompson, Emily. The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933, Cambridge: MIT Press. 2002 Zaki, Momin. Auditoriuum Acoustics. http://www.slideshare.net/mominzaki/auditorium-acoustics-33230112
  20. 20. ANY QUESTIONS?

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