Project Profile: Research Triangle Institute

Thorburn Associates was pleased to work with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) on their Building 8 Auditorium. Approximately 200 seats, the project was built by Duke Construction. TA provided both audiovisual and acoustical consulting for this user-friendly meeting and briefing space.

Like many large companies, RTI has knowledgeable staff to design and maintain audiovisual equipment throughout their campus. Therefore, the main challenge in the design of the Auditorium was to develop a consensus regarding the selection and location of equipment in this high-profile space. RTI wanted outside expertise to help them weigh all of the available options. To maximize the impact of the projected images in the Auditorium, TA was able to provide valuable, objective advice regarding the optimum locations for projectors and screens in order to keep the space flexible for different uses while still being easy to use. We did this by creating three-dimensional conceptual sketches/models to demonstrate how the various potential screen locations would impact the rest of the room. This useful tool easily brings two-dimensional plans to life so that the entire team can ‘experience’ the space before it is built, enabling more informed decisions. Through this process the client chose to implement dual rear-projection systems with screens mounted on either side of the stage. Coordinating the lighting systems and controls with the rest of the design team put the final touches on the visual impact of the Auditorium.

Both the audiovisual and acoustical engineers at TA came together to optimize the sound in the Auditorium. Two separate loudspeaker systems were implemented: program loudspeakers and ceiling mounted speech reinforcement loudspeakers to support the clip-on and handheld wireless microphones. After evaluating the conceptual architectural design of the space, the team also accepted our recommendations to reshape the side walls and to add acoustical finishes to enhance the listener experience.

The last aspect was to ensure that events taking place in the Auditorium would not be interrupted by noise from the outside. This was accomplished through detailed recommendations regarding the wall constructions surrounding the Auditorium and the mechanical system serving it. The beefed up wall constructions also allowed the recommended reshaping of the side walls to be integrated into the wider walls rather than appear surface mounted or require the expense of an additional layer of wall construction.

This is a great example of the design team, owner, and contractor teaming up to develop an elegant meeting space that truly serves the needs of the users. We know that RTI will enjoy the new Auditorium for years to come.