News 17-12 (No.360)
Issued : December 25, 2017
Auren Community Center Plaza Opens in Joetsu City's Takada Park
By Nobuhiko Hattori
A View of the Park's Lotus Plants (in Foreground),
Cherry Blossom Trees and Auren Community Center Plaza Exterior
In Niigata Prefecture's Joetsu City, a new facility for the local community opened in the city's Takada Park. The name of the facilty is Auren Community Center Plaza.
Takada Park boasts spacious grounds of some 500,000 square meters that extend across the entirety of what was once Takada Castle and its surrounding land. Built during Japan's Edo Period, almost all of Takada Castle was destroyed by earthquakes and fires less than 200 years after it was built. Today, Takada Park is home to a museum, library, athletic field, baseball stadium, a middle school and—now—the new Auren Community Center Plaza.
Takada Park is famous in Japan as a place to view cherry blossoms. Together with Aomori's Hirosaki Park and Tokyo's Ueno Park, Takada Park is considered one of Japan's 3 most premiere locations for nighttime cherry blossom viewing. The park attracts more than 1,000,000 visitors during the season when cherry blossoms are in bloom.
In addition to blossoming cherry trees, the park's outer moat offers visitors beautiful lotus plants that blossom in the summer. The chance to enjoy these natural flora brings many people to the park and keeps it a popular destination. Because cherry blossoms and lotus plants symbolize the park to many people, when the new facility was named it was decided to combine pronunciations of kanji characters “cherry blossoms” and “lotus” into the name Auren (“Au” + “Ren”) to create the name Auren Community Center Plaza.
<< Overview of the Facility >>
Plan View of Auren Community Center Plaza
Corridor Facing the Interior Courtyard
Auren Community Center Plaza's location—facing Takada Park's outer moat—places it in a prime location of the park, with cherry blossom trees as immediate neighbors and, beyond them, the moat's lotus plants. The height of the building takes into consideration the view from the surrounding park. A reinforced concrete portion of the building rises to just 3 floors above ground for the 600-seat hall and a steel structure that has only a single level houses a lifelong learning center and a children's center. The hall, lifelong learning center and children's center all face onto Auren Community Center Plaza's interior courtyard so that the courtyard brings natural light into all 3 areas of the facility and the structures form a perimeter around the courtyard.
The lifelong learning center has 2 conference rooms, a culinary room equipped with a kitchen and a ceramics workshop. The children's center has various rooms with toys and other equipment that make it an enjoyable indoor play space. In this way, the facility's design team included spaces that will attract local residents to visit and use Auren Community Center Plaza even when there's no event in the hall.
Ishimoto Architectural and Engineering Firm, Inc. designed Auren Community Center Plaza. A joint venture of Ueki Corporation, Tanaka-Sangyo and Kubota-Kensetsu served as the general contractor for the project. Nagata Acoustics provided consulting services during the design and construction phases of the project and performed acoustical measurement when the project completed.
<< Auren Community Center Plaza Sound Isolation Design >>
The layout of the hall area of Auren Community Center Plaza located 4 rooms near the hall stage. These are: the music studio that doubles as the facility's rehearsal room and 3 practice rooms. To enhance the sound isolation properties of the studio and practice rooms—both between these rooms and in relationship to the hall—we designed the 4 rooms to have anti-vibration and sound-isolating structural designs. Also, we were able to use the expansion joints that were implemented in this location for structural reasons in our design for sound isolation between the hall and the practice rooms.
In addition to these sound isolation measures, we focused on sound isolation between the hall and its lobby. One of the hall's expected uses is as an exhibition hall. When the hall is used for this purpose, the hall and its lobby can be configured to be one space that connects directly with the interior courtyard. To make this configuration possible, the 7 m (23 ft) wide wall between the hall and its lobby is constructed of movable wall partitions. For effective sound isolation between the hall and its lobby when these 2 rooms are used as separate spaces, we specified a double layer of movable wall partitions are installed. As a result, when the hall and its lobby are set up in their standard configuration with the partition walls deployed, we achieved the desired level of sound isolation between the 2 spaces.
In the halls area, the music practice room intended for use by musicians playing electric instruments is located on the floor below the rear seating area of the multipurpose hall (not directly below the seating, but in a diagonal orientation relative to the seating). Musicians and bands who play electric instruments generate large volumes of sound. Sound transmission loss from the lower octave sounds generated by electric instruments tends to be rather small. To provide robust anti-vibration and sound isolation between this room and the multipurpose hall even during use of electric instruments, we installed a box of extruded cement panels around the interior perimeter of this practice room. The box is supported from the floor and without attachments to the ceiling.
<< Goals and Configuration Options of the Hall's Room Acoustics Design >>
Hall Audience Seating
Hall Interior Detail
We designed the room acoustics of the Auren Community Center Plaza hall with a priority on use for non-amplified music performances while also ensuring that the acoustics met the requirements of multipurpose hall use. In addition to being a venue for professional music concerts, the project programming emphasized that the facility will proactively promote use of the hall by amateur musicians in the local community.
The hall offers multiple, flexible configurations. It has An orchestra shell that can be deployed or stored, as well as a retractable seating system. When the hall is configured with the retractable seating, appropriate uses include music concerts and recitals, symposia and lectures, and drama performances. The project programming assumes that exhibitions will be the primary use of the hall when it is configured with the seating stored.
<< Snow Crystals Inspired Elements of the Room Acoustics Design >>
The eye-catching design of the hall's interior features prominent three-dimensional elements on the side walls and other interior surfaces. Similarly to how Joetsu's beautiful flora led to the facility's name being a combination of Japanese pronunciations for cherry blossoms and lotus flowers, the design of the hall's interior took inspiration from snow, the beautiful natural phenomenon that Joetsu experiences in abundance each winter. Because snow crystals have a hexagonal shape, the architect suggested using a hexagonal shape for the acoustically important elements that protrude from the hall's walls.
The hall has a basically rectangular configuration with parallel right and left side walls, so our acoustical design required the important addition of large, geometrically diverse wall elements and eaves to promote sound reflections in the hall. We adopted the architect's hexagonal-shape suggestion for protruding elements along the side walls and also on the movable, sound-isolating room partitions and the orchestra shell that can be deployed on the stage for non-amplified concerts. Our implementation maintained the same hexagonal cross-section dimensions for all the elements while varying their lengths and creating a random layout of positioning on the interior surfaces of the hall.
The unique interior design may take on even more interest to our readers when I share that—because of the complexity of each wall element's shape—the construction crew built each columnar section individually, on-site at the construction site. The complexity of the design's random layout and sizing prevented adopting a simple modular pattern and off-site unit prefabrication. Instead, each columnar element was constructed by a tradesperson on site using a light gauge steel base and applying 3 layers of wall board to the element's specific length and other specifications. The other specifications included, variously, adapting some of the pieces to serve as ventilation ducts or to house indirect lighting, and where we needed sound-absorbing elements (such as on the rear wall and some portions of the side walls), the sides of the columnar sections were fabricated of perforated board backed by glass wool. The result is an amazing accomplishment.
We also used the imagery of snow crystals for a hexagon-patterned room acoustics design of the ceiling above the audience seating. The visible ceiling is fabricated of expanded metal, providing an acoustically transparent surface with visual appeal. Above the visible ceiling we installed another ceiling that has angled surfaces that effectively reflect sound to the audience seating. In addition, we installed the technical gallery and catwalks above the hexagon-patterned ceiling so that they are hidden from view and we were able to obtain the maximum possible ceiling height of 12 m (39 ft).
<< Auren Community Center Plaza Opening Event >>
Terrace near the Foyer
When Auren Community Center Plaza held its opening event at the end of September, a long line of people formed outside the hall waiting to be admitted to the new facility. As I stood waiting with others, I surmised that most of the patrons were members of the local community, with some attendees greeting people they know and passing the waiting time in conversations. During the event's intermission, I and some other attendees walked out to the foyer's terrace to enjoy the view. I enjoyed listening to the happy voices of the people who had come to celebrate Auren Community Center Plaza's opening.
On Opening Day, visitors also quickly flocked to the children's center and interior courtyard. It seemed to me that Joetsu's local residents felt immediately at home in these spaces and the atmosphere seemed almost as if this wasn't an opening day at all, but, rather, simply a typical day of people enjoying an already familiar Auren Community Center Plaza. Seeing this ease of acclimation by all who entered the facility, I became filled with hope that Auren Community Center Plaza will soon become Joetsu's well-loved and often used destination of choice for many kinds of gatherings.
Zucker Hall at Charles Bronfman Auditorium opens in Tel-Aviv
By Marc Quiquerez
Zucker Hall (Concert Mode)
To the visitor making its way to Charles Bronfman Auditorium across Leonard Bernstein Square, the sights of the newly renovated building and its reflection in the square's mirror pool are more than enough to inspire awe and anticipation. But little might they know that directly under their feet, lies the newest addition to the venue formerly known as Mann Auditorium, which celebrates this year its 60th anniversary. Inaugurated on October 13, 2017, the new Zucker Hall is designed as a chamber music hall for 400 seats, but can also be used for full-size orchestra rehearsals, thanks to a large stage platform and a retractable seating section.
<< Project Background >>
The renovation of Charles Bronfman Auditorium (formerly known as Mann Auditorium) has had a long history of challenges and setbacks, in great part due to the severe restrictions imposed by the conservation of the listing building. 10 years ago, Nagata Acoustics was appointed to work on the acoustical improvement to the main concert hall of the facility, now called Lowy Concert Hall. The hall successfully reopened in May, 2013. The reader can refer to our previous newsletter issues of April, 2009 and July, 2013 for more information on this project.
But the overall renovation was also faced with tremendous difficulties to accommodate all the functions and amenities that the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), the principal resident of the facility, was needing. Additionally, the wide-ranging programming of the renovated hall meant that the orchestra would not have the ability to use the main stage at will for their regular rehearsal schedule. An underground extension was therefore decided, aiming to add approximately 5,000 square meters to the building, mainly destined to be used by the orchestra. The new Zucker Hall sits at the heart of this addition.
Nagata Acoustics served as room acoustical consultant for the project, with Jerusalem-based Kolker Kolker Epstein Architects in charge of architectural design, in continuation of the work of the renovation. Design of the hall began in 2013 and construction broke ground in mid-2015.
<< The design of Zucker Hall >>
Hall's Plan View Drawing (Concert Mode)
Hall's Long Side Section Drawing (Rehearsal Mode)
Hall's Short Side Section Drawing
Due to spatial and structural constraints, Zucker Hall presents a simple box-shape design, with an overall rectangular footprint of 31m × 17m. In order to accommodate a full orchestra, one of the key dimension to secure was the ceiling height. From the onset of the design, an internal ceiling height of 14m was fixed to ensure that suitable acoustical conditions could be obtained for specifically for rehearsals of large ensembles, and more generally for performances with natural acoustics in this hall.
At the starting point of the design, the lower level of the hall was modeled to fit the stage platform of the main concert hall. It features a fully flat stage 20m-wide and 14.5m-deep, with an additional 2.5m-deep space at the back, overhanged by the audience gallery. On one short side of this lower level, at stage left, the wall consists of movable panels suspended on rail tracks. In concert mode, the panels are slid to the long side, effectively closing the space under the gallery which becomes the backstage circulation to the stage area. They thereby make way to 10 rows of retractable stalls with folding chairs, with a rake connecting continuously with the fixed audience. 5 additional rows of chairs can also be laid out on the flat floor around the performers. This results in a compact layout of 400 chairs all around the stage. The upper gallery surrounding the hall serves as the main technical level, and the space above is fully blacked out. The underside of the gallery helps provide second order sound reflections to the musicians on stage for rehearsals and performances.
The main ceiling and walls creating the rectangular envelope of the hall are made with painted concrete. To distribute sound reflections evenly, the ceiling surface Is scalloped with shotcrete, and the walls are lined with a series of curved wooden panels. The curved geometries also help prevent flutter echoes and excessive concentration of sound reflections.
Retractable acoustical draperies were planned at the stage level for rehearsals, and in around upper levels to accommodate various types of performances, included performances using sound amplification.
<< First notes and adjustments, Inauguration >>
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, led by long standing music direction Maestro Zubin Mehta, organized their first rehearsal in Zucker Hall in late July 2017 as the hall was nearing completion. In concert mode, with a small ensemble and all audience seating deployed, the sound was beautifully warm and clear. In rehearsal mode however, with a large ensemble playing, sound power appeared uncomfortably excessive, especially for higher pitched sounds and instruments. Fortunately, the diagnosis was relatively simple and obvious. As the hall was not yet fully completed, the elements of acoustical variability that had been originally planned and specified were not installed and available. As a result, the orchestra was fully surrounded on all sides by hard reflective surfaces, with no ability to damp any surfaces, and the reverberation time at 500Hz was measured at 2.4s.
When the second rehearsal session happened, just days before the inauguration, acoustical curtains and absorptive treatments were made temporary available behind the conductor's podium in front of the strings, and behind the orchestra under the gallery overhang. The first notes immediately confirmed the effectiveness of the solution: the sound we could hear both on the stage and from the audience stalls was clear and balanced, yet still rich and warm. Maestro Mehta and the musicians unanimously confirmed that they could hear themselves perfectly from their respective positions. Reverberation time at 500Hz was measured at 1.8s in the corrected rehearsal mode, and 1.7s in chamber music (concert) mode (unoccupied). Consequently, the original specifications for acoustical drapery to the front and back of the stage in rehearsal mode were confirmed.
The inaugural concert took place on October 13, 2017, amidst the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the facility and the opening of the new seasons.
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 795
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00