Beachwood, OH | September, 2014 - Founded nearly a century ago as a small gear and axle manufacturer, Eaton Corporation has grown to become a global leader in power management, with more than 100,000 employees in 175 countries. The company recently opened its new world headquarters in this Cleveland suburb, a 580,000-square-foot office tower designed by architects Pickard-Chilton of New Haven, CT.
The building's entrance encompasses a massive glass atrium soaring several stories high, creating a vast, open and naturally lit indoor space. More than just an impressive entryway, it's a stunning architectural design that serves as a nexus for staff and guests to converge for everything from casual lunching to large-scale company events.
International AV consultants Electrosonic created the atrium's focal point, a towering cylindrical LED display matrix "chandelier" that brings an ever-changing dynamic to the environment with imagery, information, and animations that can be seen throughout the space.
Audio and acoustical treatment was provided by Milford, CT-based SH Acoustics, the company behind such landmarks as Washington, DC's Newseum, NASA's Kennedy Space Center Exploration Space, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' Daily Planet. As SH Acoustics President Steve Haas explains, the brief was to create an acoustical experience that would complement the stunning visual environment.
"It's a very dynamic space — much more than just a lobby," says Haas. "It's often used to host both formal and informal events, sometimes attended by hundreds of people."
Needless to say, the large, reflective environment presented its share of acoustical challenges. Says Haas, "it's a very large, very live space, and no one really knew how all these different surfaces would work together. We worked with (integrators) Zenith Systems and the architects to design the audio system, enhance the acoustical treatment, and ensure that everything they were planning was done right."
Anticipating that the atrium would become something of a multi-use space, Haas explains his team's approach in designing the sound system. "We broke it down to several different categories," he says. "The daytime experience is more of a casual, ambient environment, while the evening experience is typically an event or presentation, with the chandelier as a visual focus. We had to create an audio system that could provide complete and consistent coverage, as well as being flexible and reconfigurable for different types of events."
The main system centers around Renkus-Heinz Iconyx mechanically steerable line array loudspeakers. A total of eight IC7-II are implemented throughout the space, each with its own matching subwoofer, creating eight points of full-range sound. But as Haas explains, only two of the arrays are permanently mounted. "We've made six of them portable. The two permanently mounted units are great for providing light ambient music to fill the space. The others are on stands, and when they want to do a larger event, they just set them up, plug them in, and press a button from wherever they are in the space. That's the magic of DSP — we've set up various configurations to work with a number of different types of events, different presentation positions, and other variables."
"The key to the success of this system is in using very directional speakers, and placing them precisely," observes Brian Yates, Project Coordinator with Zenith Systems. "Steve Haas recommended Iconyx because it's an excellent speaker that throws well and has great directionality. He and his team spent several days working with us to calculate DSP and time alignment for each speaker, based on different possible scenarios of where in the space a presentation might be held."
The trick, of course, is to achieve the impression of localized sound throughout the atrium, and to do so from whichever of several possible locations the presenter might select. "The Iconyx arrays are all calibrated to create an immersion in the middle of the atrium," says Haas. "Using different time delays, we can make it sound like it is coming from one end or one side or wherever the speaker is located. The IC7s behave so well, even in challenging spaces, and that is a big part of what makes it work."
"This was the first project we'd worked with Steve on, but we've worked with Iconyx on a number of projects, and agreed immediately it was a great solution," says Yates. "It's also got a nice, low profile, which makes it easy to blend them in with the architecture."
"This has been a really unique and interesting project," Haas concludes. "Holding events in an atrium isn't all that new, but the type of multimedia events they're doing in this space really does raise the bar. They are not just creating innovative content, they're also figuring out how to be creative in delivering it in this space, with this medium. We're really pleased with the results."