The Sony Centre

When it opened in 1960, O'Keefe Centre was one of the premier post-war theatres in Canada. In 1995 a renovation project set out to address the long lamented acoustical problems, this time with the LARES electro-acoustic enhancement system. The Sony Centre seemed to be the perfect candidate for electro-acoustic enhancement...until the side wall echoes were discovered! These echoes had been there since the room opened but had never been a problem. Now that as much sound was going to be coming from the side walls as from the stage, the echo posed a potentially disastrous threat. A 1:48 model was built and tested by us to confirm the performance of a number of acoustical diffusers built using prime number theory. The scale model tests suggested that the echo could be significantly reduced, although not completely eradicated. The problem was eventually solved with computer optimisation expanding on prime number theory. Crescent shaped acoustical diffusers, developed by Salford University's Prof. Trevor Cox. Their simplicity of form belies the complexity of the design challenge. First and foremost, the diffusers break up the echoes and let the LARES system function as it should. Most of the diffusers hide loudspeakers. This means that speakers are attached to the wall rather then hidden inside it. They are the quintessential heritage solution. You don't damage a beautiful building that might find a new function fifty years hence. An obvious application on one level and a seamless design integration on another. Helped out by the way by one of Canada's greatest architects Thom Payne.
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Architect: KPMB Architects Acoustician: John O'Keefe