The Betty Anne Rouse Bell Recital Hall is a 366-seat performance space for Berry College and its School of Music. This renovation of the 1928 Ford Auditorium transformed a worn and acoustically problematic room both visually and functionally and made its acoustics clearer, more exciting, more consistent and more flexible.
A previous renovation had covered the hall's ceiling with a sound-absorbing spray. This reduced troubling focused reflections off the barrel-vaulted ceiling, but also reduced liveness to a disappointing level and accentuated the harshness of the high-frequency sound sustained between the flat side walls. Low frequency sound continued to be strangely focused by the fuzzy ceiling. To recover reverberation and distribute energy more evenly, our renovation rebuilt the ceiling as a series of convex curves covered in wood. Sound transparent wood slats maintain the visual appearance of the vault. At the side walls, gently sloping flat panels and custom-designed textured panels blend and mellow the sustained sound. At the forestage, new side walls and an overhead reflector improve projection and communication for small ensembles and recitals. Behind the proscenium new walls, ceilings and movable curtains accommodate larger, louder ensembles. Movable acoustic banners at the side and rear wall allow adjustments to the hall's acoustics.
The renovation added air conditioning to the hall, a particular challenge
as the only practical location for equipment was directly below the stage. Other improvements include replacing seating, re-raking the balcony to improve sightlines, adding climate-controlled instrument storage and providing a new speech reinforcement system.

Project Details
Audiovisual Systems Design
Mechanical Noise Control
Room Acoustics Design
Sound Isolation
Cevian Design, Rome, GA, Architect
5,600 gsf
366-seat auditorium
Mount Berry
2020 Architecture MasterPrize - Restoration & Renovation