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Houses of Worship

SOUND INSPIRATION FOR THE WORSHIP SPACE
Hearing is Believing.
Our Acousticians and Acoustical Engineers are nationally respected authorities on acoustical environments for churches of all sizes, shapes, and denominations. No two congregations are identical; our advanced acoustical modeling software allows us to strategically place sound-reflection, absorption, and diffusion features in quantities and locations that support and enhance the specific worship style of each church. Every project is acoustically tested and verified to ensure a successful outcome.

As we are not the representatives of any acoustical material manufacturer, sound system equipment supplier, or building contractor, we are able to consult and advise in an objective manner with only the best interests of our clients in mind.

We are faithful to one goal: creating an acoustic environment that enlivens worship through the dynamic expression of speech and music.


Services Offered

Acoustical Consulting Services Include:

  • Acoustics Design for the Architectural Form and Interior Finishes
  • Acoustical Testing, Analysis, and Evaluation of Existing Spaces
    • Reverberation Time across frequency spectrum.
    • Ambient Noise Levels across frequency spectrum
    • Speech Intelligibility, Clarity
    • Acoustic Tone Projection & Distribution
    • Sound Transmission from Outdoors & Adjacent Spaces
  • Chancel & Music Area Design
  • Noise Control Engineering (Soundproofing)
  • Organ Chamber and Site Preparation Design
  • Audio (Sound) System Design Consultation
  • Audio (Sound) System Evaluation and Training
  • Video System Design

Architectural Services Include:

  • Drawing conversion from paper to AutoCAD
  • Development of AutoCAD Drawings for existing spaces
  • Pipe Organ Facade Design

Featured Projects

Acoustical Consulting Services Include:

St. Monica's Catholic Church
Dallas, Texas

The St. Monica's Church worship space is a round/concave shaped room. Originally, floors in the nave aisles were carpeted, and Sanctuary, Choir, and under-pew area flooring was hard surfaced. The concave perimeter walls were primarily glass, with hard surfaced sections between glass panels; these created unwanted echo reflections and "hot spot" sound focusing within the nave. The concave, asbestos clad ceiling surface was highly sound absorbing. The combined sound absorbing effects of the floor and ceiling materials resulted in a reverberation period too low to enhance organ and choral music, and too low to foster good participation by the assembly in sung and spoken liturgy.

The choir and organ space was separated from the main nave by a wood lattice wall that obstructed tone projection, and the former organ was a poorly executed attempt at a baroque tonality, with failing operating systems.

Acoustic improvements to the room include entirely hard surface marble/tile flooring and a sound reflective and diffusive ceiling deck, with sound diffusing wall features having discrete areas of absorbing treatment. The result is a live room that supports Catholic liturgy, with echoing and "hot-spot" focusing effects eliminated. The music area's obstructive lattice wall was removed, and sound reflective diffusers were added to blend tone amongst musicians, as well as to distribute music evenly throughout the nave. The sound system features an array of ceiling mounted speakers, along with special coverage speakers installed in discrete locations.

The new Nichols and Simpson four manual organ with primarily electric-slider action has five divisions. All pipework is located in a sound reinforcing chamber above and behind choir singers, wrapped in a façade designed by Frank Friemel.

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St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Marion, Iowa

St. Mark's Lutheran Church is a congregation that offers a wide variety of worship opportunities and styles. As the project began, the church had one worship space in which they were conducting Traditional, Blended, Contemporary and "High Impact" services. The room contained theater style stadium seating, large areas of carpeted flooring, sound absorbing wall panels and curtains, video screens, and a mechanical action organ that had been moved from the congregation's former church building. Though the effort was made via architectural detailing and A/V system design to meet the needs of the varying worship and music styles, the room met the needs of none well.

It was decided to create two separate worship spaces on the Church campus so that each space could be designed and detailed to serve their respective worship and music styles with excellence. A new building was constructed for traditional worship, and the existing space was re-designed and outfitted for the contemporary services.

The new building, "Worship Center II", is a long, tall, "center aisle" room with hard surface flooring throughout, sound reflective and diffusing reinforced gypsum board walls, and a metal ceiling deck that features sound reflective "clouds" above the Chancel and Choir spaces. Speakers are carefully located and aimed to deliver speech to the congregation seating area, but to avoid unwanted sound reflections from other building surfaces. All A/V sytems were designed by Dave Hosbach of DSH Audio-Visions. The rear wall of the room is equipped to contain a retractable curtain so that the room's reverberation period can be altered and "tuned" to accommodate light attendance, or occasional contemporary music use. The maximum Reverberation Period in the room is slightly above 2.0 Seconds, achieving excellent conditions for congregational singing, choral and organ music, and for speech clarity.

The 50+ voice choir is seated in the chancel on tiered hardwood risers that have interior treatment to suppress foot-fall noise. Twin organ chambers flank the center Chancel window.

The organ installed into the chambers is the restored E.M. Skinner three manual and pedal, 26 rank instrument, Opus 695, built in 1928 for St. John's Lutheran in the Bronx, New York. The organ was available for sale due to the closure of St. John's congregation. Skinner organ Opus 695 was restored and reinstalled into the new St. Mark's Church by the J.L. Weiler Organ Company of Chicago in conjunction with assistance from the Organ Clearing House.

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Community Church of Vero Beach
Vero Beach, Florida

The Community Church worship space is a "fan shaped" auditorium type room. Originally, congregation area floors were carpeted, and the rear perimeter walls were primarily clad in sound absorbing cloth covered fiber-glass acoustic panels. The ceiling was made of coffered plaster, and choir and organ were located to the upper left of the Chancel platform. The former organ was a neo-baroque mechanical action instrument. The low reverberation period in the space did not enhance choral and organ music, nor did it foster good congregational participation in hymns and sung or spoken liturgy.

The expanded music program of the church required additional and flexible choir seating to accommodate the wide shift between "high" and "low" seasonal attendance. Further, a larger organ, romantically conceived, but capable of setting forth a wide range of compositional styles and eras, was desired. The sound system was aging, and designed to accommodate the room's low reverberation period.

Acoustic improvements to the room include primarily hard surface flooring, with carpet only in select aisles, and sound reflective walls featuring hard, dense construction and uniquely engineered sound diffusing surface profiles. Retractable curtains are installed at the rear of the room to adjust the reverberation period for the high and low seasonal attendance shifts. Ceiling surfaces were hardened and sealed. The reverberation period is now at 2.0 Seconds. The new sound system features an array of ceiling mounted speakers, along with special coverage speakers installed within the chancel steps, and monitor speakers to serve those seated at the Chancel and Choir. The system also includes comprehensive sound, video, and recording applications and controls to serve worship, theatrical productions and concerts.

The new Lively & Fulcher organ is located in twin chambers and cases at the rear of the Chancel, above and behind the choir risers. The action is electric-slider, and the movable French terraced draw-knob console has a complete multi-level combination system. The Lively & Fulcher Organ Company also built the matching chancel and choir liturgical furnishings, seating, and wood wall and cabinetry work.

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First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant
Erie, Pennsylvania

The First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant is a Gothic style structure, built in 1930. Walls and floors are of stone, but the original ceiling was constructed of perforated metal panels with sound absorbing fibrous backing. The reverberation period was lower than desired for choral and organ music, and robust hymn singing. A previous attempt to reduce the sound absorbing effects of the ceiling failed when the canvas sheets glued over the perforated panels delaminated and fell. All sound absorbing ceiling panels have now been replaced with reinforced and rigid gypsum board inserts. The result is an increased reverberation period, especially at low frequencies, that enhances the full range of music and hymn singing. Choir singers have also been re-oriented into an "ensemble" seating arrangement at the front of the room, with space for instrumentalists in the now flexibly furnished Chancel. There are new wood sound reflector-diffusers installed behind and beside the singers; these reflector-diffusers are designed to match the architectural style of the room's existing original wood features. The previous sound system provided poor speech intelligibility and room coverage. The new system has multiple visually discrete "line-array" column speakers that are "zoned" to deliver clear, intelligible speech to all seating locations. The new sound system is all digital in its operation, having a large mixing console with pre-sets for simplicity of operation. Its capabilities include full speech reinforcement, light music reinforcement, and recording. A video system has been prepared to have record and projection functions.

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Before

After

Mayflower Congregational Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mayflower Congregational Church's worship space is as a long and fairly narrow New England Colonial style building with reasonably tall side walls. Original interior materials included significant amounts of carpeting, and many wall and ceiling surfaces clad with sound absorbing acoustic tile treatments. The Chancel choir area was limited in size and flexibility, and separated singers from each other in transepts with low ceilings and with large modesty railings.

The former organ was an electro-pneumatic unit organ, inadequate in size for the church's music program and worship space size, and suffering from failing mechanisms. The former organ pipes were located in a tone-restrictive side chamber that was without adequate climate control.

The extensive music program of the church called for a reliable instrument, capable of accompany and leading sacred music of many styles. Further, adequate flexible and functional space and a supportive acoustical environment were necessary to the present and future goals of the church's music ministry. Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout along with sound reflective and diffusing, hard, dense wall and ceiling gypsum board and plaster treatments. The Chancel and choir area were enlarged by extending the space towards the nave. The Chancel now accommodates all liturgical functions as well as provides space for choir singers, the organ console, a grand piano, and other instrumentalists. Modesty railings are spindle/baluster type to allow unobstructed sound projection. Access is facilitated with a chair lift.

The new Glück organ is located in twin chambers at the front and sides of the Chancel. The primary divisions are on the long axis of the room, in cases/chambers that flank the central Chancel window. The casework and façade blend into the architectural style of the room, and the expression chambers are finished in multiple layers of dense, sound reflective gypsum board, with both insulation and air circulation fans to stabilize tuning/temperature conditions for the organ. The organ action is electric with some unit actions. The movable side-jamb stop tab console has a complete multi-level combination system. The organ employs some restored and rebuilt pipe work from the previous Mayflower Church organ, along with re-purposed pipes from Glück stock, as well as new ranks.

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Christ Presbyterian Church
Madison, Wisconsin

Christ Presbyterian Church is a 1980's Contemporary Style building situated on the shore of Lake Mendota in the state's Capitol City. Both traditional and contemporary music styles, along with a variety of theatrical and musical productions are all presented in the room. The worship space's original acoustic challenges included a too low reverberation period that did not enhance music or support congregational sung and spoken participation in the service. Carpeted floor areas, along with the presence of flutter echoes and excessive HVAC background noise, further diminished the acoustic environment.

The church's heritage Möller organ is located in the rear gallery, with an Antiphonal division at the front of the space, above and behind the Chancel. The tone of the Antiphonal division was severely obstructed by dense tone grille fabrics and other sound trapping building features.

Acoustic renovation design elements include increasing the amount of hard surface floor areas, the use of sound reflective/diffusing nave side-wall profiles, and the application of sound absorbing material to the rear balcony face. The front Reredos wall of the Chancel has been reconfigured to allow Antiphonal organ tone to project to the nave without obstruction, and the carefully angled and partially sound absorbing flanking walls of the chancel serve to project and balance contemporary and traditional music. The HVAC system was altered to reduce air speed and attenuate noise.

The new digital audio system allows easy transition from contemporary to traditional service styles, and employs a line array speaker system with a hidden subwoofer. An indicative loop hearing assistance system and video projection onto Chancel walls complete the A/V package.

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Photo by Mr. Thorsten Ott


Photo by Mr. Thorsten Ott

Peace Lutheran Church
St. Louis, Missouri

The Peace Lutheran Church building is newly constructed, incorporating classical elements with a modern interpretation. There is a "center aisle" congregational seating plan that yet wraps the broad Chancel. Musicians are located in a spacious rear gallery that accommodates choristers, woodwind, string, and brass players, a full range hand-bell choir, and a two manual and pedal mechanical action organ.

Flooring throughout the space is hard surface ceramic. The ceiling deck is lacquered/sealed wood, with discrete areas of sound absorbing treatment added to fine-tune the room's 2.2 Second Reverberation Period. The walls are primarily brick, set in a variegated geometric surface profile pattern that diffuses sound, and prevents focusing and echoes. Modest areas of sound absorbing cloth covered fiberglass wall inserts also tune the reverberation time. A spindle type baluster railing at the balcony edge allows music to transmit to the nave without obstruction.

The sound system uses traditional ceiling mounted loudspeakers with supplemental speakers in under-balcony areas of the room. Twin video screens flank the Chancel, and A/V controls are in the balcony.

The Martin Ott two manual and pedal organ has primarily mechanical key action with electric stop actions and a multi-level combination system. The organ is voiced in a modified neo-baroque style, and contains three electric unit action ranks to expand the use of its tonal resources. The console is detached from the case, with trackers running in a chase beneath the tiered choir risers.

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Before

After

St. Hedwig Catholic Church
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

St. Hedwig church is set in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Milwaukee, WI. The building dates at over 100 years old. Over time the worship space interior and organ have been remodeled, updated, redecorated, and rebuilt many times. The instrument and room were far from their original artistic and architectural inspiration and intent. The parish desired a restoration and return of the building to a more historic style and period. The organ was a significant factor in returning to the historic integrity of the room. In 2006 we found the organ to be failing... mechanically, electrically, and structurally. Considerable portions of the original Kimball instrument remained, but over time the organ had been removed from its original case,changed to electro-pneumatic action, and positioned into two chambers at the back of the balcony that obstructed eight art glass windows.

The project goals therefore included returning the organ to a traditional encased position at the center of the balcony, thus allowing the art glass at the rear of the former chambers to be revealed.

Happily, the Holtkamp organ company had available a modestly sized existing instrument available that could be repurposed into St. Hedwig Church, with the best portions of St. Hedwig's Kimball organ available to be combined with the Holtkamp organ. The result is an instrument that contains the bright clarity of the newer Holtkamp organ, along with the rich sonorities of the Kimball pipe-work. All of this has been combined on new act electric slider actions for superb reliability and tone, with pipes fully re-voiced into a noble, clear, broad palette of tone. Further, the Holtkamp console from the Julliard School of Music in New York was available for sale, so this console now controls the instrument. A classically styled case, evoking the architectural idioms of the St. Hedwig room, provides both an artistic visual effect, and a blending tonal effect.

The entire project was accomplished economically due to the restoration, re-purposing, and re-use of good existing resources and materials.

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Faith Lutheran Church
New Providence, New Jersey

Faith Lutheran Church's worship space is as a long and fairly narrow "A Frame" style building with reasonably tall side walls. Original interior materials included a softwood ceiling deck with some tiled and some carpeted floor areas. The rear choir loft had a high, solid railing and side vestibules that obstructed and trapped sound energy. The former organ was in its core a Tellers electro-pneumatic unit instrument with other used ranks added over the years. This organ was located in a Masonite clad chamber at the rear of the balcony.

The growing and vibrant music program of the church generated the need for additional and flexible space to accommodate the parish's many musical ensembles which include full choirs, bell choirs, and instrumental ensembles. Further, a larger, durable and reliable organ, with sufficient musical resources to lead the sung liturgy and support and accompany a variety of musical styles was desired.

Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout along with sealed and hardened wood surfaces, and multiple layers of dense, sound reflective wall materials. The balcony was enlarged with a cantilever overhanging only two rear of nave pews. The balcony also now has a sound transmitting wood baluster railing.

The new Glück organ is located in an elevated case at the rear of the balcony, with sound transparent grill material flanking the case to facilitate tonal egress from pedal ranks adjoining the case. The action is electric-slider with some unit actions. The movable side-jamb stop tab console has a complete multi-level combination system. The organ employs some restored and rebuilt pipe work from the previous Faith Church organ, along with re-purposed pipes from the Glück stock, as well as new ranks. Faith Lutheran Church

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St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church
Blowing Rock, North Carolina

The desire for an improved acoustic environment at St. Mary of the Hills Church was occasioned by the church's purchase of a new Lively-Fulcher pipe organ. The English cottage style building had a too low Reverberation Period for the enhancement of music rendition or for the support of the congregation in sung and spoken liturgy. The room is not large enough, or with sufficiently tall walls to achieve a truly "live" reverberance, but it was also not functioning at its maximum potential. Primary challenges were the thin finish wall material, the unsealed softwood ceiling deck, and the presence of heavy wood trusses that obstructed sound distribution down the Nave.

A related but separate issue was the partial bowing of side walls from the weight of the roof truss structural system.

Acoustic renovations included the hardening and sealing of the wood ceiling deck, the stiffening of side walls with double layers of gypsum board, and the replacement of the roof trusses with those of reduced girth and higher mounting in the overhead space. Further, walls and ceiling in the organ case/chamber and choir areas were strengthened with three layers of glued and fastened gypsum board to reinforce and reflect musical sound energy. Discrete ceiling mounted reflectors were also placed above the Choir to project tone down the long nave. Insulated and laminated glass was specified to attenuate the noise of exterior mounted HVAC equipment from transmitting into the worship space.

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First Presbyterian Church
Gallatin, Tennessee

The First Presbyterian Church, built in 1837 in Gallatin, Tennessee, was severely damaged by fire in December of 2004. The fire, begun from a Christmas decoration candle on a window sill, burned up the side wall of the church, across the ceiling, into the organ chamber, and through the roof of the building. While partly damaged, the Egyptian Art Deco styled organ case survived the fire, along with some pipes from the electro-mechanical organ. The new mechanical action instrument, built by Bradley Rule of New Market, Tennessee, has electric stop controls and a detached console. Room acoustics were enhanced with a coffered detail on the ceiling, reinforced gypsum board walls, and a reduction in the amount of carpet in the space.

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Photo by Bob Ervin


Photo by Bob Ervin

St. Peter's Catholic Church
Omaha, Nebraska

St. Peter's Catholic Church is a large scale Greco-Roman Basilica style building with an acoustic environment that did not support liturgical Catholic worship. The reverberation period was too low to enhance music or to encourage participation by the assembly in sung and spoken Mass parts. The "dead" and dull acoustic ambiance did not match the vibrant decorative style and grand visual scale of the room. The nave's previous interior finishes included carpeted aisle and under pew flooring, with marble flooring only in the Sanctuary. The barrel vaulted ceiling was entirely clad in sound absorbing acoustical tile. Highly decorated and detailed walls were hard plaster however.

Room acoustic re-design recommendations and specifications include:

  • Use of hard surface flooring throughout the nave and sanctuary, including spaces in aisles and under pews, to increase the Reverberation Period for the benefit of traditional music styles, and to facilitate the assembly's participation.
  • Replacement of the sound absorbing acoustical ceiling tile with hard plaster coffered and sound diffusive treatments to enhance the reverberation period, and to be appropriate to the architectural heritage and style of the room.
  • The placement of modest sound absorbing cloth covered fiberglass treatments at rear and side wall regions in the space to "fine tune" the reverberation period, and to prevent unwanted flutter and echo reflections. The cloth covers are dyed to match the plaster paint colors, for the purpose of blending seamlessly into the architecture of the space.
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Salem United Church of Christ
Quincy, Illinois

The Salem United Church of Christ, Quincy, Illinois, has a Victorian Gothic structure built in 1876, featuring a "wrap around" balcony, with choir and organ elevated at the front of the room. The old Moller organ, worn and decayed, was installed with extremely challenged access and maintenance space into three chambers. Choir seating, while well placed, was fixed and inflexible in a "stadium" arrangement of theater chairs on carpeted floors. The new Schantz organ, having more ranks than the previous Moller, is accessibly installed into the chambers, with the historic façade pipes retained. The choirarea, with the movable organ console, now features portable chairs and risers with hardwood flooring.

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St. John Lutheran Church
Park Rapids, Minnesota

The St. John Lutheran Church building is constructed in the "A-Frame" style, with organ and music ministries functioning from the rear gallery. The congregation's musical offerings include traditional liturgie swith organ, choir, bell choir, and other vocal and instrumental groups. Community musical organizations also use the church as their performance venue.

Originally, the music gallery had an unsealed, soft-wood ceiling, carpeted floor, and "soft" sound absorbing acoustic spray material on the rear wall. The former electro-pneumatic pipe organ was composed of a variety of used and newer components, and was inadequate, both musically and mechanically.

Acoustic improvements include an all hard surface music gallery floor with foot-fall noise sound deadening under-floor treatments, a sound reflective rear wall madeof multiple layers of gypsum board, and the application of sealants to harden the wood ceiling. Future plans include the reduction of first floor area carpets.

The new Berghaus organ has electric slider main chest action, with some unit chests. The fully encased instrument sits at the center-rear of the balcony, on the long axis of the room. Three ranks of pipes were restored and re-used from the church's previous organ. The movable console is outfitted with a multi-level combination action as well as player conveniences such as "Automatic Pedal" and "Melody Assist" features to aid pianists.

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First Presbyterian Church
Birmingham, Michigan

Before the building renovation and new organ project, First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham suffered from a common American acoustic defect; a too low reverberation period caused by the presence of sound absorbing carpets and wall panels. Further, music rendition was poor, due to the side oriented organ chambers, with sound trapping side passages adjoining the Chancel. The smooth, curved ceiling form also created sound "hotspots", tonal focusing, and "echo" type effects.

Acoustic re-design features include all hard surface flooring, sound reflective and diffusing wall surface treatments, and coffered ceiling reflectors. Choirsingers now have tiered risers in an ensemble "horse-shoe" format to facilitate tonal blend and projection. Chancel walls are angled and detailed to blend tone and direct reinforced musical sound toward the nave. All interior surfaces are hard and structurally dense to assure reinforcement of sound energy across the full frequency range.

The new Nichols & Simpson organ is encased at the front wall of the room, such that both choir and organ sing from the end of the long axis of the space.

Custom designed wind ducts were installed to deliver nave temperature make-up air to the organ blower, while preventing blower noise from being heard in the worship space.

The sound system includes line array speakers, selected for their ability to provide speech clarity in the room with a now generous reverberation period. The system also has full recording and playback capabilities.

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Christ Church, Episcopal
Delavan, Wisconsin

Christ Episcopal Church has a classic, traditional worship space with a long center aisle, Apse and Chancel, and a lofty peaked and arched ceiling. The Tiffany windows and Victorian Gothic style of the room increased the building's inspirational setting. The primary acoustic deficit was a too low reverberation period caused by the presence of large expanses of carpeted flooring. The organ was suffering from the effects of dirt and age to the pipes, leathers, and electrical switching system.

The re-designed room honors and maintains the integrity of the original architectural style and detailing. Wood carvings and the Tiffany windows were cleaned and restored. Additional wood wainscoting to match the existing now completes the room. All new hard-wood floors with artistic inlay details create a visual and acoustic vitality in the space. New seating, classically designed, is better oriented for liturgical gathering, and accommodates the flexible use of the space.

The organ was cleaned, repaired, and restored, with a new multi-level solid state switching and combination system retrofitted into the historic, and now movable console.

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Christ UCC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The P.J. Swartz Organ Company of Eatonton, GA has recently completed the rebuilding of the 1969 Verlinden organ at Christ Church UCC, Milwaukee, WI. Technical, mechanical, and tonal revisions and updates were accomplished. These include the replacement of the aging electro-pneumatic switches with a new Syndyne solid state control system that offers an expanded combination action as well as MIDI capability. Trumpet pipes were replaced with a new rank for improved scaling and tonal blend, along with a 16' extension into the Pedal. The original Vox Humana was also replaced with an historic Wangerin Oboe to expand the organ's tonal palette and functional use. Finally, a 4' Swell Principal rank was added, particularly so that the unification of the Great Diapason stop could be reduced.

When originally installed, the main windchests of this instrument were mounted within the chamber, higher than the top level of the tone opening. From this position, no tone from pipes could project directly through the grille opening to the nave of the church. It is speculated that this "too high" mounting of windchests by the original builder above the tone opening was caused by the tall pneumatic switch stacks that were located beneath the windchests. With the introduction of the solid state switching system, the tall pneumatic switch stacks were removed, and the windchests lowered to bring pipes even to the tone opening level. The result is a renewed tonal vitality, presence, and projection. The repositioning of the organ pipes for good tonal egress, along with the replacement of carpeted worship space flooring with polished granite, has resulted in an excellent musical and liturgical functional space. Scott R. Riedel & Associates Ltd., Milwaukee, WI, provided consultation service to the project. The dedication recital was performed by Donald VerKuilen on Sunday November 13, 2011 to a capacity crowd.

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Luther Memorial Chapel
Shorewood, Wisconsin

Luther Memorial Church's worship space is as a traditional Victorian gothic long and fairly narrow "center aisle" room. Original interior materials included plaster walls and ceilings, with carpeted Chancel, balcony and aisle floors. The choir singers are located in a rear loft along with a "Positiv" organ division. The main Great, Swell and Pedal organ divisions are located in second floor chamber to the right of the Chancel that had two layers of fabric at the tone opening grilles.

The original organ was in its core an Estey electro-pneumatic unit instrument. Later additions of other new and used ranks, along with a replacement console, were provided by the Berschdorf Organ Company. The Chancel chambers were clad in Masonite, and the balcony chamber walls and ceiling were softened and damaged byroof leaks.

A durable, reliable instrument of compatible tonal and voicing styles was desired, along with acoustical improvements for the enhancement of hymn singing, choral, and organ tone.

Acoustic improvements to the room include the use of hard surface flooring throughout the Chancel and Balcony, along with multiple layers of dense, sound reflective wall materials in all organ and choir areas.

The Berghaus Organ Company found, restored, re-configured, and installed an historic Casavant organ, re-voiced to fit into the new setting. Due to structural challenges in the building, the primary divisions of the Casavant-Berghaus organ (Great, Swell, Pedal) are installed into the rejuvenated Chancel chambers. An expressive Choir division composed of some ranks and components from the church's previous Estey-Berschdorf organ is installed in an updated balcony chamber.

A case of working facade pipes now fronts the Chancel chambers. The action is electro-pneumatic with some unit actions. The draw-knob console is located in the balcony along with choir singers.

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Pilgrim Lutheran Church
St. Paul, Minnesota

The Pilgrim Church building is designed in the Victorian Gothic style. There is a tall, long central nave, with twin transepts flanking the crossing. Originally the Altar was at the front wall of the Chancel, with choir singers facing each other in the Anglican manner. The original Wangerin organ, of primarily unit stops, was installed in a left-front chamber with tone openings only into the Chancel.

Building and acoustic modifications include a Chancel extension toward the Nave crossing, with a central, free standing Altar and movable liturgical furniture. The choir is now located on tiered risers at the front wall of the Chancel, on the long axis of the room. All Chancel and choir flooring, formerly carpeted, is now finished in sound reflective hardwood.

The re-purposed organ was originally built by the Schantz Organ Company in 1958 for the Community Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan. Changing worship styles at the Michigan church caused the organ to be sold. The organ was re-designed and installed by the Berghaus Organ Company to have the Great division in twin cases flanking the central Chancel window. The Swell andPedal divisions are placed in the former organ's Chancel side chamber. The chamber has been remodeled for improved tonal projection and to have an expressive Swell chamber separated from the non-expressive Pedal stops. Wind pressures were increased, and the organ was re-voiced to serve its new Lutheran liturgical and architectural setting. The three-manual draw-knob console is movable to accommodate flexible use and positioning in the Chancel.

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Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
(Roman Catholic)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Formerly, St. John Cathedral had a traditional long center aisle with fixed pews, and a forward Sanctuary with a baldachin covered altar, as well as a free-standing altar. The very small rear balcony contained a 4 manual electric action Noehren pipe organ, with little remaining space for choir singers or instrumentalists. Floors and walls were hard surface terrazzo and marble, and the ceiling deck was a moderately sound absorbing composition tile material. A large and unsightly sound system speaker cluster was suspended from the forward ceiling.

The liturgical renewal of the space included the positioning of a single central altar, a baptismal font and pool near the main entrance, a single ambo for proclamation of the word, and movable chair seating for the assembly. The former forward Sanctuary is now the music ministry plaza, with adequate space for cantor, organ case and console, choir singers, piano, and instrumentalists. A new Nichols and Simpson encased organ is placed at the front of the room, at the Apse/former Sanctuary, behind the choir singers. The new four manual “front” console controls both the Apse and balcony organs. Three digital line-array sound system speakers serve the entire space from discrete locations aside columns, and the ceiling deck has been hardened.

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St Andrew's Chapel, Sanford, Florida

St Andrew's Chapel, Sanford, Florida

St Andrew's Chapel, Sanford, Florida

St Andrew's Chapel
Sanford, Florida

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Designers, Pipe Organ Consultants

This new building, of historic Gothic inspiration, but constructed of entirely modern materials, has arches, columns, vaults, transepts, and clerestory windows. The architects designed a steel superstructure, and clad it with pre-formed and composite newly developed materials. Our acoustical task was to create a very classic room for natural, non-electronically reinforced choral, organ and instrumental music with a generous, even, and warm reverberation period. This was achieved with the use of primarily hard, dense, sound reflective and reinforcing materials and treatments. Hard composite material finishes, multiple layers of dense wall components, sealed surface textures, and diffuse, multi-faceted surface forms and profiles were employed throughout the space. Hard tile, wood, and brick flooring, along with closely spaced structural framing, angled and diffusive wall and ceiling geometries have all been incorporated into this classically styled new building. Further, the building is fully equipped with state of the art sound and video system components. The nave's sound system delivers clear, intelligible speech to worshippers in every corner of the vast, live room. Complete sound and video recording, mixing, and broadcast technologies have been provided to facilitate the many media based education and ministry programs of this dynamic congregation.

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Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church
Louisville, Kentucky

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Design Consultants

Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church was a basically functional worship environment, but lacked adequate flexible space for musicians and worship leaders. Further, the room suffered from uninspiring acoustics that did not enhance music or hymn singing participation. Side wall and ceiling wood trusses obstructed tone projection, while carpeted floors and the softwood ceiling deck absorbed important sound energy. The remodeled space includes hared floor surfaces and sound reflective and diffusing reinforced gypsum board diffusers added between the ceiling trusses. Real sounding facade pipes were added to the organ, and the Chancel music and liturgical space is enlarged with flexible furnishings.

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St. Jerome Catholic Church, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

St. Jerome Catholic Church, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

St. Jerome Catholic Church, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

St. Jerome Catholic Church
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Designers, Pipe Organ Consultants

"We want our new church to 'look like a church'"; this was one of the primary design parameters that governed Groth Design Group Architects in the planning of the new — large St. Jerome worship space. Indeed, this traditionally styled and proportioned room, outfitted with modern technologies, is a modern "classic". Columns, colonnades, rose windows, and tracery abound. The hard surfaced paint stenciled walls and ceiling, and herringbone pattern marble floors result in a "live" acoustical environment that encouraged congregational song. The traditional upper rear choir loft and encased Berghaus electric-slider wind chest organ facilitate a creative liturgical music program. The organ also features an Antiphonal division at the Sanctuary for small group and Cantor accompaniment. The sound system has multiple speakers nestled amongst ceiling trusses, aimed to delivery clear speech to all seating locations.

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Martin Luther College Chapel of the Christ, New Ulm, Minnesota

Martin Luther College Chapel of the Christ, New Ulm, Minnesota

Martin Luther College Chapel of the Christ, New Ulm, Minnesota

Martin Luther College Chapel of the Christ
New Ulm, Minnesota

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Design Consultants

The Martin Luther College Chapel has been designed to serve many and various campus functions. Primarily, it is the main site for Worship, but concerts, lectures, symposiums, and a variety of other college events happen within the space. A large encased Schantz pipe organ is placed just behind the tiered choir risers that are embraced with sound reflective and diffusing "band shell" type walls. Musical and liturgical sound is reinforced and enhanced by the generous reverberation period (above 2.0 Seconds) that results from the stiffened gypsum board walls and ceilings, along with hard tile flooring. Sound diffusing wall profiles and wood wall insert details diffuse reflected tone to become both balanced and enveloping. The selection of structural features and materials, and the design of the mechanical systems prevent interruption from unwanted background noise.

Keys to the acoustical success of the room are its large cubic air volume, "long axis" location of choir and organ, and use of hard, dense, sound reflective materials, all within a modern expression of classic architectural forms and principles.

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Moorings Presbyterian Church, Naples, Florida

Moorings Presbyterian Church, Naples, Florida

Moorings Presbyterian Church, Naples, Florida

Moorings Presbyterian Church
Naples, Florida

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Designers, Pipe Organ Consultants

Moorings Presbyterian congregation has built an inspiring all new worship space. The former building, with low ceilings, carpeted floors, and an imitation organ, lacked the dynamic vitality that the new room exemplifies. The new Nichols & Simpson organ is placed in commodious chambers with encased facades on the long axis of the room. The James Boughton architects seamlessly integrated sound reflective and diffusing forms into the architecture. There are only modest areas of carpet, with all other surfaces hard and sound reflective. The resulting over 2.0 Second reverberation period enhances music and supports clear speech via the ceiling mounted, distributed speaker sound system. Attendance rates during worship vary significantly across the year, due to the influx of "northern snow birds" during the high season. Therefore, retractable sound absorbing curtains and alterable sound system programming can shift the room's acoustical environment, depending on the occupancy rates.

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St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Franklin, Tennessee

St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Franklin, Tennessee

St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Franklin, Tennessee

Roles: Acoustician, Acoustical Engineers, Sound System Design Consultants

The all new worship space at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church is a traditionally conceived space; long, tall, narrow, cruciform, with a "center aisle" congregational seating layout. Choir and organ are located behind the Chancel and Altar at the front, on the long axis of the room. This classic room form and layout is ideal for traditional musical styles and liturgies.

The re-purposed Aeolian-Skinner organ (from the former Episcopal Cathedral in Kalamazoo, Michigan) stands in a tall case, above and behind the choir singers. The choir area has ensemble oriented tiered risers, along with space for instrumentalists.

Room finishes include multiple gypsum board layered dense walls for sound reflection and reinforcement. Hard surface flooring, a sealed, hard-wood ceiling deck, and discrete upper rear wall absorbers (to temper unwanted hard echo reflections) all combine to produce a reverberation period that enhances music and fosters robust participation in hymns and liturgy by the congregation.

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Additional Projects

Christ Church, Episcopal (show)

The Lutheran School of Theology (show)

First Presbyterian Church (show)

St. Mark's Lutheran Church (show)

St. Matthew Lutheran Church (show)

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (show)

First Congregational United Church of Christ (show)

First Presbyterian Church (show)

Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church (show)

Bishop Spencer Place Chapel (show)

Church of the Resurrection (show)

First English Lutheran Church (show)

First Presbyterian Church (show)

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (show)

Hope United Church of Christ (show)

St. Catherine Episcopal Church (show)

St. James Episcopal Church (show)

St. Peter's United Church of Christ (show)

Christ Church, Episcopal (show)

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (show)

St. Anthony the Hermit Catholic Church (show)

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church (show)

Cathedral of Christ the King (show)

St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (show)

St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church (show)

First-Plymouth Congregational Church (show)

Basilica of Holy Hill (show)

Boe Chapel, St. Olaf College (show)

Emmanuel Baptist Church (show)

First Baptist Church (show)