The new US Capitol Visitor’s Center, which was completed in 2006, provides an educational experience for visitors, as well as a secure public entry to the Capitol Building that is both aesthetically pleasing and acoustically effective. The 580,000 square foot space includes galleries for historical documents, meeting rooms for Senators and Congressmen, and an alternate space for sessions of the House and Senate. The focal point of the center is the Visitors’ Auditorium and its two orientation theaters. After close review of the plans, we made recommendations for appropriate acoustical finishes for all surfaces in the auditorium and theaters.
The auditorium, designed to seat 450 people, and the theaters, which will accommodate 1,500 visitors per hour, all required specific finishes to meet the strict acoustic criteria. The wall coverings, dependent upon the nature of the event, will vary between screen, wood and fabric-wrapped panels. Cerami’s consultants specified the installation of carpeting in the space as well as the location of the numerous speakers to ensure optimum acoustics.
In addition, Cerami reviewed the design of the center’s HVAC ductwork and mechanical systems so that our innovative and effective applications ensure that visitors are not disturbed by these systems. Our recommendations for treatments for the HVAC systems included duct lining, fan powered boxes, and sound attenuators. For the mechanical systems, our goal was to control the systems’ noise and vibrations. To do so, we specified appropriate slab and partition constructions, MER doors, heat pumps, and cooling towers.