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Getting personal with Acoustical Design Group

Ian R. Wolfe, principal of Acoustical Design Group, Inc., discusses a major roof replacement project, ways to maximise patron experience and the development of personalised technology that controls what individuals see and hear at events


What services does your company offer to the industry?
Acoustical Design Group (ADG) is an independent consulting firm that provides acoustical and audio-visual systems design services for a variety of building types. Our strength is developing practical, cost-effective, and innovative solutions that best serve our clients’ goals. With expertise in architecture, engineering, audio, music, television, electronics and acoustics, the professionals at ADG blend their technical specialties with a sensitivity to design aesthetics.

The company is divided into two branches: one focuses on architectural acoustics and noise and vibration control; the other focuses on sound and audio-visual systems design. Although each division has their own specialties, many projects overlap, and our employees work closely together to ensure a well co-ordinated acoustical/technical environment.

ADG has absolutely no affiliation with any manufacturer, vendor, supplier or contractor. We provide independent, objective, personalised services tailored to the needs of our clients.

Could you tell us an interesting fact about your company?
We celebrated 25 years in business in 2011. We are a small business with one office and have worked on projects in all contiguous US states and eight countries. The size of our projects varies from small remodels to multi-million dollar stadia and arenas. No other acoustical design firm has more cinema experience than ADG; we have more than 4,000 cinemas/movie theatre projects to our credit.

What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
Events for patrons will become increasingly individualised experiences as technology continues to advance at lightning speed. Watch for more customised apps targeted to enhance the experience for the attendee, smartphone/web-driven system remote control, control systems that encompass all systems within the entire building/campus, and personal technology devices that allow you to select what you want to see and hear at an event.

Can you tell us about a recent success story for your company? ADG was involved in the renovation and roof replacement project at BC Place – a 55,000-seat indoor stadium in Vancouver, Canada. Among the final events hosted by the venue immediately prior to the renovation were the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The key feature of the renovation was the replacement of the air-supported roof with a cable-supported, retractable roof. We used highly advanced technology systems to deliver and control audio throughout the facility. Among the systems’ features are motorised line arrays, nine equipment rack rooms, three levels of redundancy, and full monitoring capabilities. The project was completed in October 2011. The annual CFL Grey Cup Championship game (comparable to the NFL’s Super Bowl) was held at BC Place in November.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
Among the challenges we’re facing at the moment, an important one is to recognise technology that has lasting qualities versus those that are a ‘flash in the pan’. It’s also important that we maximise the effectiveness of technology within limited budgets, while at the same time dealing with inconsistency in the qualifications and experience of contractors.

We are overcoming these through thorough evaluations of products and technology, which allows us to develop creative solutions that achieve acceptable results. We are also listing strict qualification requirements for contractors within our specifications.

What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
We've been utilising many new technologies such as Ethernet-based delivery of audio and video signals. We've been cleverly adapting loudspeakers in rooms to eliminate or minimise visual impact, integrating television and digital signage through a common delivery system – it's the selection of a combination of tried-and-true solutions with a blend of current technologies to achieve a harmonious result within budget, as well as participation in co-operative solutions with contractors in lieu of traditional design-bid.

What’s your favourite stadium/sports venue and why?
All are our favourites. Certainly the more recent projects have appeal simply because of the innovative architecture and structures used to maximise the user experience. The best projects are always those that meet or exceed the end-users’ expectations, stay within budget, and have a superb design and construction team.

Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
From our viewpoint, smartphones or iPad-like devices will allow individualised control of the event experience. Patrons will be able to select the audio they wish to hear and observe the camera they want to see – all in real-time. Statistics, team facts, player biographiess, etc, will all be instantly available via app-like solutions provided by each venue/team. For touring events such as ice shows, the circus, and musical acts, there will be similar technology to, again, allow each attendee to personalise their experience.

In addition, venues will be designed to be more flexible to accommodate a wider range of events. We may see more variable acoustics and building shapes to adapt to the varying needs of the events.


Acoustical Design Group will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8-10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 4044


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