Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
EMPAC Concert Hall 2008
The Concert Hall is located within a wooden Hull.
Client:Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Project Category:Concert Halls
Architect:Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners
Arch. of Record:Davis Brody Bond
Completion Year:2008
Location:Troy, New York
Lighting:OVI - Office for Visual Interaction
Acoustician:Kirkegaard & Associates
Building Size:220,000 s.f.
Capacity:1,200 seats
Designed to be a first-class venue for symphonic music, yet equally capable of accommodating jazz, amplified music, presentations, film and dance with electronically generated sound and video projection, the EMPAC concert hall is configured traditionally in a "shoe box" format: as a long, narrow room of wood and masonry construction. The floor and lower walls are all finished in maple, while the upper walls are clad in a combination of precast acoustic panels made of gypsum and precast stone. 

The ceiling, which is the most innovative feature of the concert hall, is made of panels of fabric less than one millimeter thick, supported on a delicate web of stainless steel cables.  The fabric was specially selected and woven for EMPAC and is optimized for gentle reflectivity to high-frequency sound and increasing transparency to mid- and low-frequency sound, providing acoustic support to the musicians and audience while allowing the volume above the ceiling to generate reverberance. The ceiling panels form a convex shape overall and exhibit a gently glowing surface when illuminated.