The Experience Music Project, designed by Frank Gehry, is a museum dedicated to the celebration of popular music. Through his swooping design and vibrant colors, Gehry captures the vibrancy of the subject while also reflecting the unique variety of its neighbors. An existing monorail on the site was incorporated into the design allowing it to move right through the building into the Seattle Center. This monorail enhances the sense of movement in the museum, which is characteristic of the unconventional nature of Gehry’s design work.
There were many factors in the design of this museum that made this project an acoustical challenge. With the monorail traveling through the building, Cerami’s consultants were concerned that the vibration would be disruptive to the exhibits nearby. We conducted extensive site surveys and found that through careful architectural design, we could minimize this vibration.
The team’s desire to have the ability to reorganize exhibits, including the size and shape of a given exhibit hall at any time, had major implications on the design of the museum’s HVAC system. We accommodated their request by designing a system without fixed ducts, but rather air towers throughout the museum floor, into which flexible ductwork could plug into. There were problems with sound transferring over to adjacent exhibits. Within the different rooms, museum guests listened to different genres of music, and it was important that the music from one room did not dissipate into other rooms. We worked closely with the architect on the design of the architectural shapes of the rooms in order to ensure proper acoustical separation.