Architectural Acoustics (module)

What does jazz sound like when it is played in a cathedral? How would Gregorian chant sound in a jazz club? And why do footsteps in the apartment above so often sound from downstairs like a herd of elephants?

Architectural acoustics entails architectural design, human perception, material properties, and building systems. Sound and architecture are intrinsically linked. This class will address how buildings respond to and enhance our aural experiences, and how designers can shape the aural environment.

Topics covered:
Topics include the basics of sound and hearing, the acoustic properties of materials, room acoustics, sound transmission, and the acoustics of performance halls. Along the way we’ll touch on computer modeling and acoustics simulation, building systems noise control, the urban soundscape, and other topics.

Objectives and outcomes:
Students will develop a basic understanding of the principles of architectural acoustics: how we hear and perceive sound both indoors and outdoors, appropriate criteria for listening environments, and how architectural decisions of layout, materials, room shape, and design impact what we hear in and around a space. By the end of the module, students will develop sensitivity to the way that architecture affects what we hear, and will be able to implement fundamental design principles that profoundly affect building functionality, our auditory perception, and our sense of space.

Course format and method of evaluation:
This six-week seminar class will meet once weekly for a three-hour seminar that will also include field trips, listening exercises, and hands-on experience with acoustical measurement equipment.

Readings that supplement class discussion will be required most weeks. There will be weekly homework assignments (field reports, problem sets, or short research papers), and one major final project. Students will be graded on the weekly assignments, the final project, and their contributions to class discussions.