McGill University – Schulich School of Music – Music Multimedia Room Renovation

Music Multimedia Room Renovation

The Music Multimedia Room (MMR) is a unique space, used for Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology’s (CIRMMT) ground-breaking research in ensemble communication as well as rehearsals, performances and recordings. For this challenging range of uses, we created a neutral, highly flexible acoustic environment. The walls of the room are covered with custom-design sound diffusing panels mounted over tuned bass absorbers. Working closely with the architect, we used parameter-driven design and listening tests to create a panel that offers broad-band diffusion without coloration. Retractable banners and adjustable curtains dampen the room’s response depending on the users’ needs. A walkable wire grid and side wall “buttresses” accommodate any physical setup within the room, regardless of the position of the banners and curtains. Sound-reflecting shelves at the middle of the side wall provide supportive reflections to musicians and help to project sound to audiences. An acoustic enhancement system (Meyer Constellation) can extend the room’s reverberation or generate specific sets of virtual reflections. The comprehensive design of the MMR allows any kind of music to sound authentic, whether electronic, natural, or a seamless blend of the two. Learn more about the project here.

Adjustable Acoustics
Adjustable Acoustics Design

Overcoming Design Challenges

The MMR was essentially a concrete box that was well isolated for CIRMMT. For 10 years, the space was used for research and recordings. After a grant was secured to fund their music research in the space, Kirkegaard was introduced to the project. The desire was to create a flexible space. They wanted the room to be very diffusive. Working with the local architect – Menkes Shooner Dagenais Letourneux Architectes, Kirkegaard met with CIRMMT and mapped out some initial concepts for the space. CIRMMT was very impressed during that first meeting that we all collectively came up with a such a clear concept. The synergy between everyone was almost immediate. It was very helpful that CIRMMT was also extremely knowledgeable about acoustics and AV design having done a tremendous amount of music research.

Kirkegaard sketches for Adjustable Acoustics Solutions

Our Unique Approach with an Exceptionally Knowledgeable Client

Kirkegaard provided Mechanical Noise Control and Sound Isolation Design for this project. Room acoustic design was provided for the interior fitout and the isolation and noise control maintained.

Additionally, our team created custom diffusive panels. For the diffusive panels, we wanted them to provide a reflection that is basically coherent at mid frequencies and more diffusive at high frequencies.  We used the panels from Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – EMPAC as a logical starting point but chose to pursue a fully molded panel rather than a molded and drilled panel as at EMPAC (for cost reasons).  We used grasshopper scripts to geometrically develop the irregularly texture or “bubbles” on the face of the diffusive panels, defining their sizes, concentrations, and depths. The “bubble” design was settled on as a series of shapes that scatter a range of high frequencies without emphasizing particular frequencies.  Two types of diffusive panels were created a larger 3x3m panel, located at the middle zone and a smaller 2x2m panel, located in the lower zone, near the performers and researchers. We evaluated the mockups by listening to the character of sound reflecting off them and comparing it to the EMPAC panels and other diffusive panels with which we have experience.

Adjustable Acoustics Molded Paper

Our goal was to create a very flexible neutral space, free of echoes, without flutter or troublesome coloration.  We also designed the room to be supportive of performances and friendly for rehearsals, but our primary focus was on making the space suitable for research.

In the Media