Performance Center Aims for Perfect Sound

Feb. 1, 2008
The Bailey Center's superior acoustic design was paramount in creating a venue for students to learn how to play music in a concert setting

A new performance center in Atlanta is attracting world-class talent to the metro area. The recently opened Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center, located on the campus of Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Kennesaw, GA, is recognized as one of the premier places in metro Atlanta to hear superior-sounding music. The project, designed by Atlanta-based Stevens & Wilkinson, Stang & Newdow, took about 1 year. The firm also utilized the specialized services of Acoustic Dimensions' New York office of acoustical consultancy. The performance center includes a 627-seat concert hall, orchestra-choir rehearsal room, and a 1,800 square-foot art gallery.          

The Bailey Center's superior acoustic design was paramount in creating a venue for students to learn how to play music in a concert setting. "A first-class facility was essential to sustain our growth and improve upon the quality of our program," says Peter Witte, acting chair of KSU's music department. Due to this new facility, Witte and his department anticipate 250 music majors by 2009, up 56 percent from the current 160.

Factors such as the shape/size of the room, seating layout, and the finishes and materials all had to be taken into consideration as part of the overall design. The heart of the room design is the long, tall, and narrow pre-cast concrete box. The walls, roof, and structure were specifically designed to provide sufficient volume for the appropriate acoustical scale to support wind ensembles, and the rectangular shape and limited room width were also critical. The dense, pre-cast concrete material helps to maximize reverberation and provides for an excellent bass sound that enhances tone. The concrete also insulates against exterior noise.

What makes the Bailey Center unique is that its world-class quality acoustics were achieved at a low construction cost. Other small halls with seating of under 1,200 are usually too loud when a large ensemble is on the stage. The Bailey Center, however, with just over 600 seats, sounds like a typical 1,800- to 2,200-seat concert hall.

"The center's acoustical flexibility is not only an ideal learning tool for our students, but provides a balance that enables a wide variety of ensembles and musical genres to be heard with clarity and articulation," says Witte. "The net result is a reverberant, warm, and exciting sound."

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