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Special treatment for new Performing Arts building

Monday 23 September 2019 2:05pm

Work is gathering pace on the University’s School of Performing Arts facility, which will include about 780 specially-crafted acoustic boxes.

The $26 million project is one of this year’s special 150th anniversary fundraising projects, and is on track to be operational by the start of the 2020 academic year.

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Raising the acoustic floor … Mason Mercer New Zealand sales engineer Greg Tate holds one of the almost 900 jack mounts cast into the main concrete floor slab in the control room for the main music and performance studio. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

The new modern building and refreshed spaces will provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art multiuse recording and performance spaces for Otago students and the Dunedin community.

This will create more opportunities for collaborating locally, nationally and internationally – with the latest technology – on teaching, research, performance, and production.

It will also make attracting high-quality students, and recruiting and retaining high-quality staff, easier.

Director of Development and Alumni Relations Shelagh Murray says it’s a very exciting initiative for the University, and will help Otago continue to provide unique and internationally-recognised music and performing arts programmes.

“It’s wonderful to see it all taking shape,” says Ms Murray. “It will bring great benefits to our students and staff, as well as to the wider Dunedin community, and attract national and international visitors.”

The special acoustic boxes are for 12 acoustically-rated recording studios, control booths, isolation booths, recording booths and percussion rooms.

Joiners off-site are creating the timber-framed boxes of various materials, shape and sizes to attach to walls then workers on site finish off the boxes by adding acoustic fabric.

Marshall Day acoustic consultant Markus Schmid says the boxes will determine the acoustic footprint of each room.

They comprise three types of sound absorbers – plain, panel and slotted – and one type of diffuser. To give each room a particular sound for its intended use, these acoustic treatments vary in their shape, distribution and quantity.

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The main studio ... University of Otago Senior Project Manager Steven Ireland looks up at the two storeys of the main music and performance studio in the new building, while (from left) apprentice carpenter James Riach, carpenter Graeme Wall, and carpenter Simon McCaig jack up the acoustic floor in the main control room, to a total of 50mm above the concrete slab floor.

Main contractor Naylor Love is constructing each of those rooms as a carefully sealed ‘box within a box’, to help stop sound and vibrations getting in and sound escaping.

The new facility also includes building two new links to boost accessibility and create circulation areas for socialising, displays and performances; between the new building and the existing University of Otago College of Education Music Block and between the college’s existing Teaching Wing and eastern end of the Music Block.

Rooms in the college’s Tower Block are also being refreshed and will house School of Performing Arts staff as well. The college’s Teaching Wing is being refreshed too.

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