NEWS

Williamsville Central School District Reno’s In Review

Early in 2019, Williamsville Central School District issued a request for proposal for renovations in 7 of their schools.

These renovations were to include:

  • auditoriums
  • new large rehearsal spaces added for orchestra, band and choral programs
  • renovation of smaller rehearsal spaces
  • new sound systems for all the auditoriums
  • new sound systems for all of the rehearsal spaces and
  • replacement of stage rigging at four of the schools

AVL has been contracted by Kideney Architects as the acoustical, sound, and stage rigging consultants for each project. The construction phase will be an ongoing process for many months to come.

As various spaces approach completion, we will be posting images of the progress of the projects in the Williamsville schools. We hope you will come back on occasion for updates!

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OVERVIEW:    The overall venture encompasses 7 auditoriums, 9 large rehearsal spaces (band, choral, orchestra), 12 medium rehearsal spaces and multiple individual practice spaces, as well as sound systems in all 7 auditoriums and stage rigging at 4 of the schools.

One of the key elements performed early-on was a field evaluation of all existing spaces.  This included measurements of reverberation, echo, clarity and other acoustical metrics. We also assessed each sound system in all of the auditoriums, providing Williamsville with the assessment of these spaces. 

We then held extensive meetings with the music department staffs at each school to get their input on how things sound, how the spaces currently perform and what they would like to see corrected. 

The new rehearsal spaces were to be designed to have a high level of performance. With that in mind, we needed to develop a baseline for what the district thought was a good sounding, large rehearsal space. As a premise for this, we asked them if they had ever been to  Fredonia College’s Mason Hall, each of which we at AVL Designs Inc. designed a number of years ago.  All of them had performed in that space and they all agreed that Mason Hall was what they considered to be a great sounding space.

So, we utilized the basic acoustical characteristics of that room as the basis for the new rehearsal spaces adjusted for cubic volume and for the specific uses.  Smaller spaces cannot sustain the reverb time of the larger spaces, but they can have similar frequency balance. We are approximating that reverberation characteristic and overhead diffusion on a smaller scale. 

As each area nears completion, we will be updating this post with added photos. The reports that we have been getting back from the district about the ones that they are already using are great!  And there will be more to come as we continue with this large-scale project, closing out over the next 12 months.

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Williamsville Central School District

Williamsville Central School District in upstate New York has extensive music programs at all seven of its middle and high schools. A district-wide renovation is underway with varying scopes at each school.

East High School auditorium after renovations.

Williamsville’s East High School Auditorium

AVL Designs Inc. has been contracted for acoustical design, audio, AV, stage rigging and curtains for each school.

Music classrooms are being renovated and many new, large rehearsal spaces are being built.  AVL tested existing schools and, based on meetings with their music teachers, developed preferred conditions.  

Auditoriums are being renovated to varying degrees. Acoustic improvements and sound system enhancements are being rendered for all of the auditoriums. Some are even getting new stage shells and stage rigging.

Williamsville's Heim Middle School music room with cellos in storage.

Williamsville’s Heim Middle School

As various parts of the work come to completion, we will post details and pictures of the work in progress.

Williamsville's South High School auditorium. after redo

Williamsville’s South High School Auditorium

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Central Square High School

Central Square High School, located in Central Square, New York City, contracted King & King Architects to head up the renovation of their auditorium. AVL Designs Inc. was hired by King & King to assess the performance systems and design a new system for the school.

Audio and acoustics were the top need for the district. The school has a wide-ranging music and theatrical program, and the space is used for many events each year.

First: Fix the Acoustics

AVL Designs Inc. dealt with the acoustics first, as many acoustic concerts are held in the room. So, in the design, the side walls are canted in segments to provide lateral energy distribution into the seating area. Overhead clouds are curved, to provide a measure of diffusion to overhead reflections. The under-balcony ceiling has diffusive elements, as well, and the rear wall is absorptive to minimize echoes to the stage.

Next: Audio and Lighting

The main sound is built around Danley Sound Labs’ audio main speakers, chosen for their fidelity, pattern control, and frequency range. Drive electronics and amplification are provided by Ashly audio products, and the man house console is an Allen and Heat SQ7. An Ashly Audio NE 800MM is used as a day to day automixer, fully automating small functions. Wireless microphones were selected from Shure using the QLX D series.

The AV system includes a Crestron control system, 298” Diagonal 16:9 screen, and Christie DHD Series projector. Two touchscreens allow control of the video system as well as audio selection between automated and manual controls.

The lighting system is a hybrid using both incandescent dimming and LED fixtures. ETC Source Four, Color Source, Fresnel, and Philips SL bar and Punch Light fixtures were used in the design. The dimming and control are Strand with a Strand Neo Console.

Due to COVID-19, the system has not seen much use, as of yet, but the performance use in the future looks bright.

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Cortland High School

Cortland High School produces many music and theater arts performances each year. They are home to a Concert Band, Jazz Band, Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra,  Chorus, Modern Band, Dance, Cultural Music, and performance  theater.

The high school auditorium was aged, and not well suited acoustically for most of the program. Top priority for this project was to improve the acoustics, and next in line, was developing the technical: audio, AV and lighting.

AVL Designs Inc. provided the district with a primer on electronic acoustics, which we offered as a solution for the needs of their multipurpose space.

AVL Designs Inc. is a LEADER in the application of electronic acoustics in the US, with over 30 systems deployed.

Electronic acoustics allows a room to take on entirely different acoustical  character for varied performances. The system enhances the stage and the seating area, provides extended reverberation time and adds early reflection energy to the seating area. Physical acoustics were designed to work with this system. The panels, which look like they are all the same wood, are, in actuality, multiple types of acoustical  products.

The base condition of the room is a warm neutral frequency balcony with a low noise floor. This makes the room ideal for theater, lectures, and other uses. When music is involved, by use of electronic acoustics, the room can change on the fly.

One key item that was added was a highly accessible catwalk for front-of-house lighting access. Stage rigging was replaced with new Brickhouse™ arbors, for added safety, and extensive stage electrics.

An existing dimmer rack was refurbished to provide continuing use of ETC S4 fixtures, all other lighting is LED based utilizing fixtures from ETC and Varulite. Control for lighting is provided by ETC paradigm and Ion ZE 2K consoles.

Audio consists of an extensive new system designed around Danley Audio main speakers, Ashly Audio® DSP and amplification, Allen & Heath SQ series consoles, and Sennheiser wireless systems. The system is Dante connected to a second console in the video control booth on a lower level.

Video presentation and green room systems are controlled via Crestron and utilize Christie®, Panasonic, and Crestron display products.

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Belfast High School

Belfast High School in Belfast, New York has an active theater program. Even so, their performances have been taking place in a gymnasium with a stage that was minimally outfitted. So, with much help from AVL Designs Inc., the school undertook a major renovation project refurbishing the gym to accommodate top-notch theatrical performances .

Take a look at this “before” picture in contrast with what it looks like now, after the renovations!

You almost wouldn’t recognize the place!

BEFORE: Belfast High School Gym / Auditorium

Completed Belfast High School auditorium renovation

AFTER: Belfast High School Gym / Auditorium

Originally, there was no fixed seating, insufficient lighting, limited access to FOH [front-of-house] lighting and minimal audio [though they did have about 30+ wireless systems.]  

Actually, to their tribute, Belfast had been working diligently to do a good job with the audio on their shows but the system and room acoustics were fighting against them.  

When it came to theatrical lighting, shows were highly challenging to produce. The school had one dead hung pipe and minimal onstage fixtures. They had absolutely no focusable fixtures, only one border light and some fluorescent strips.  

SEATS

Above all, the biggest change needed was to add permanent seating capability and sight lines.

Auditorium seating in Belfast High School

AVL Designs Inc.’s plan added a motorized raked seating system with padded chairs. This addition completely changed the way the room behaves acoustically, and makes it far more comfortable for the audience.

Other acoustical room upgrades have been completed, as well. Our design altered the ceiling profile to create an acoustical shell over the pit area for choral groups and to minimize side wall reflections.

LIGHTING

The addition of side lighting galleries brought a major improvement to the performance space. Motorized lighting was not an affordable option for the school so, the new lighting galleries give them the ability to quickly change lighting for specific events without having to bring in a man lift.

LED color changing fixtures make for rapid wash changes to the look of the stage. The system is designed around Electronic Theater Controls products using an Ion Xe® with dual touch screens. ColorSource™ is the primary lighting fixture used on the project using the combination of ellipsoidal and pars. The other lighting that was used was Strand SL bar 60 40s for stage light and general illumination.

AUDIO & AV

Other upgrades were to replace all front of house audio from the console to loudspeakers, monitors, processing Allen and Heath sq seven consoles were used as well as Sennheiser wireless systems and Danley S H series loudspeakers.

BEFORE: Belfast High School Booth

AFTER: Belfast High School Control Booth

The system sounds dramatically better than the original and is performing well for the owner. Video was upgraded as well, utilizing a high lumen output Epson Projector, new screen, new projector, Crestron control system, and other upgrades.

The school district is extremely pleased with their new space and, coming out of the COVID restrictions, is looking forward to using it for performances.

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Newfield High School

Newfield High School

Main auditorium of Newfield High School where AVL Designs Inc. were contracted to design new stage rigging, lighting, audio, video and do acoustic room corrections.

Newfield High School’s auditorium was an outdated facility housing a very active theater group. In fact, people at the highest levels of the school administration have contacts who work in theatrical productions in New York city. Those pros come in to operate shows at New Field High School.

 Newfield High School needed an update!

AVL Designs Inc. was contracted to design new stage rigging, lighting, audio, video, and make room acoustic corrections for the auditorium. The architect was tasked with raising the height of the fly space to make it more usable for productions, as well as adding a balcony and enlarging the entire seating area of the auditorium. 

Large video screen in the Newfield High School Auditorium - part of the renovation design completed by AVL Designs Inc.

The resulting changes to the room are striking, not only visually but functionally as extensive system improvements have been made.

Control boards for the sound, lighting and video at Newfield High School auditorium

Lighting has been enhanced with LED lighting fixtures as well as additional moving heads. The new audio system is a dramatic improvement. It includes an Allen & Heath D live digital console, expanded wireless microphone inventory, a new sound system Mains, subwoofers, over and under balcony fills and stage monitoring are included.

Theatrical renovations were made at Newfield High School.

An electronic stage orchestra shell was added to enhance sound on stage as well as in the house using proscenium loudspeakers to expand the coverage of the electronic shell into the seating area. 

The stage fly space was raised in height and all new counterweight rigging was designed using brick house technology. Although a FOH catwalk is part of the project, it could not be properly located to provide good lighting positions to the pit area. A motorized  FOH batten was included  just below the  catwalks. This batten is populated with moving heads, allowing flexible for forestage lighting.

Large video screen in the Newfield High School Auditorium - part of the renovation design completed by AVL Designs Inc.

The new video system is a utilizes an HD laser projector with Crestron controls. Projection is made to a 298” diagonal screen. An HD PT Camera provides video feeds to green rooms and streaming.

Note: Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 problem, their first show was canceled. As a result, photos of the room were taken with the disarray of an abandoned building, being evident in all of the photos. The cast and crew were told to “leave the building and don’t come back” and they hastily left everything behind, just as it was during their show prep and rehearsals. We hope to get better photos of the room when all of this subsides.

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