Consulting Engineeing Award 1996

Vancouver's much loved Orpheum Theatre is the home of the Vancouver Symphony. It was saved from the wrecker's ball in the 1970s, brought up to date and given a permanent orchestra shell. It remained however more of a vaudeville house than a concert hall - at least in terms of acoustics. A long-term renovation project has been initiated by the Vancouver Civic Theatres to address these problems and others like it in The Orpheum, Queen Elizabeth and Playhouse Theatres. Financing for the project was generated through parking and seat surcharges, thus allowing the upgrade of these civic buildings without burden to the taxpayer. Construction was carried out in the summer months when the theatres were dark. Initial acoustical measurements were performed in The Orpheum in 1994. The most serious problem was the image shift heard on the balcony. Image shift is an acoustical phenomenon where the sound appears to be coming from a location other than true source. For listeners on the balcony, singers or soloists appeared to be perched somewhere above the ceiling. Underneath the balcony overhang, the acoustics were dry and lacked loudness. The renovated acoustics of The Orpheum have been very well received by music makers and concertgoers alike. The image shift on the balcony has been eradicated and the listeners underneath the balcony now experience some of the best acoustics in the house.
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1:50 Scale Model Testing
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Before renovation
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After renovation
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After renovation

Architect: proscenium architects + interiors
Acoustician of Record: Aercoustics
Principal Acoustician: John O'Keefe