Auditorium Theatre Audio Install

My largest project to date was an audio redesign of Chicago's historic Auditorium Theatre. Built in 1881 by Adler and Sulivan, The Auditorium is home to Willow Chicago - A Church for the City - every Sunday. I started working at Willow in 2009 as a Tech Director and the opportunity to lead this project was a blast.

photo credit the architects newspaper

 

When Willow began meeting in the ATRU in 2006, they hung a 10 box center position array of Meyer Milo boxes. While they sounded great, they lacked enough punch for the 4000 person room.  The room itself has proved to be an audio reinforcement challenge on many accounts. First, being that the acoustically perfect room is a dome, achieving stereo image is near impossible. But further more, the room is designed to carry sound from the stage level up toward the back seats, not from the ceiling downward to the seats. The center hangpoint is nearly 70' from the stage floor, and because of sightline restrictions the bottom of the rig couldn't hang below 45'. This mean means if you sit anywhere near the stage, your experience feels auditorially disconnected from what you're seeing on stage in front of you. Additionally, the room has a deep balcony with low 12-15' ceilings that have virtually no sightline to the upper array. (Oh and should I mention FOH mix position is under the balcony!?!?)

With all these issues in hand, a redesign was necessary. The goal was to accomplish a larger center hang array andadd stereo stage stacks above subwoofers to create a sense of acoustical "power" coming from the stage. The stage stacks would also provide some punch up under the balcony. We knew the rig would be a bit unconventional for sure, but it's an equally unconventional room. 

T.C.Furlong in Lake Forest, IL, a long time friend of Willow Chicago was the vendor and partner for this install. Below is a screen shot of their SMAART simulation for my proposed array configuration. Note the angle of the top array with the deep balcony.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 2.33.45 AM

In January 2012 we took order of 9 Meyer Mica Boxes. The cabinets had been on loan by Meyer for a short tour so I scored a discount. Because this system would be used as the permanent House Rig by the Auditorium, the boxes needed to be painted in a rather "lovely" shade of gold 🙂

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Micas getting prepped for painting

 I was like a kid in a candy store. Literally, when I was a kid the first thing I did with a new piece of audio equipment was take it apart to see what made it tick. The stakes felt higher taking these Mica boxes apart!

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The Mica Boxes required a new set of hangpoints to be drilled in the ceiling of the Auditorium. We made sure to measure twice before drilling through this historic 1881 ceiling design byAdler and Sulivan 🙂

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Above the first gold arch in the Auditorium Theatre

Tim, the house carpenter took me to the upper portion of the arches for a rarely seen look at the auditorium. 

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1881 stained glass at the top of the Auditorium Ceiling - "Lighting doors"

"It's a long way down if you step on the glass..."

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Lighting position through one of the glass lighting  doors

The stereo stage stacks consisted of 5 Meyer Melodies above a single Meyer 500Hp. Since the stage stacks would only be moved a few feet at a time depending on the position of the stage lifts, we decided to fabricate a mounting bracket. I worked with a local steel fabricator to make these brackets.

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test fitting the stacking brackets

stereo stage stacks - photo credit architects newspaper

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Micas going up!

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All hung and ready to fly!

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Many thanks to the scores of people involved to make this install a reality: TC Furlong, Meyer Sound, the entire Local II Stage Hands Union of Chicago, and a special thanks to the Auditorium Theatre leadership.

 

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Made in the PNW Holiday Pop Up Shop

Made in the PNW Holiday Pop Up Shop

Tomorrow we host our very first pop up: The Made in the PNW Holiday Pop Up Shop. As we’ve been prepping every last detail, I’ve been thinking about why we would choose to use our limited emotion and energy resources to put on a holiday shopping event.

Read More

South Line Table

The South Line Table

A Tangible Story

In 1872, one year after The Chicago Fire, a gathering of companies pulled together to create Chicago's first elevated train line. Twenty years later in 1892, the first 'Alley El' extended from Congress Ave to 39th Street - a distance of 3.2 miles.  The new 'El' provided transportation opportunity and connection to jobs that were previously unreachable for communities on Chicago's near-south side. The South Line table is a celebration of Chicago's heroic efforts to rebuild and rise from the ashes.

southline_city_table_stylized

This table supports a cookie cut of midwestern Ashwood. Looking closely along the edge of the table you will notice evidence of the Emerald Ash Boring Beetle that has wrecked havoc on the species of tree. This particular slab of tree, whose rings date it back to the mid 1940's, came upon very difficult times of harm and internal destruction causing it to die in the early 2000's. 

On the top of the table I engraved a minimalist design of the city of Chicago as a gift for my friends at Willow Chicago. 

 southline_city_table-4-stylized

southline_city_table-6-stylized

 

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The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table was project I completed for a class here at The Seattle School in my first term last fall. This school encourages students to think wide and wild in the search for connections between theology, culture and psychology - and this project was just that exercise for me. It represents the most creative of my thinking last fall that draws together cultural listening, creative design, and spiritual theology.

In the poem which I engraved and inlaid with gold tinted resin, I sought to capture the profound invitation to rhythm and repetition that in inherent in all of creation - particularly in the rings of a tree. As I built this table I had in my mind a Eucharistic community that I hope one day to lead. I said to a friend just shortly after I finished the table, "I have the table, but I don't have the community!" Quite literally, I have started with the table - the eucharist table. This is a lesson to myself, which I also hope to lead others into; that in our theology, in our creativity, in our design, in our listening to culture we must always start at the eucharist table where Christ calls us to be his very breath, body and blood.

The engraving reads:

Every tree is a declaration, every ring an invitation.

Creation is guided by the rhythm of season and it will be no other way. Attend often to the table, attune to the Rhythm of Sabbath.

 

Similar to the table I created for my friends back in Chicago, this table sits atop a table leg I designed called "South Line." The juxtaposition of the urban table leg and the eucharistic poem engraved on the top of this table represent for me the stark juxtaposition which is the Euchastist meal.

 

sabbath_table-3 sabbath_table-6

Below is a short two-page paper I submitted with this project:

The first iteration of the Ten Commandments is found in Exodus 20. Within, is God’s direction to keep the Sabbath. Israel is told by God, via a transcript from Moses, to keep the Sabbath because God first kept the Sabbath. They are to rest from work and remember [Zakar] the Sabbath day as God’s design for creation. In their re-membering, they re-establish and re-build the Sabbath experience every seven days. They build a temple within time where they practice playful delight, lavishly experience the Earth’s goodness with food and relationship, and reverently respect and acknowledge each other, the other, and the creator above it all who set the created order in motion.

As an element of the created order, the Michigan Ash Wood tabletop is crosscut showing 68 years of growth rings. Being that it succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle in 2012, the rings date the tree to its germination in 1944. Each ring on the tree is a memory of the spring and summer growing seasons followed by harsh stagnant winters at my Dad’s lake house on Look Lake in Crystal, MI. It is also an open declaration that all around us every tree abides by seasons of growth and rest and holds within them a delicate record of recent seasons past.

Season and repetition are peculiar things to humans. We resist them, complain about them, and welcome them often all the same. It amazes me how my memory of winter seems to fade into gray-scale just as it comes back around and I find myself welcoming the first snowflake of December with joy and delight. Then, just as all hope of sunshine is beginning to fade and I am cursing the slow laden ground, the first sun-fueled thaw of late March pervades.  It is as if our memories have the propensity to forget just fast enough that each season feels new without being totally forgotten. Trees are brilliant catalogs of season. When cut and finished with care they serve as lifelong companions in our living spaces that remind us the world does not exist on a linear track. Rather, the real and tangible world moves with a fluxing heartbeat rhythm of work and rest.

Sabbath, is a special kind of season. Different then the rest of winter as observed by a tree, Sabbath is a weekly rest for women and men. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, Israel stands on the precipice of the Promise Land as they are re-told the Ten Commandments. Here, Israel is invited to Observe, [Shamar], the Sabbath because God liberated them from Egypt. This re-telling of the Sabbath command is focused on observing God’s work in Humanity.

In the Christian life, there is no experience more poignant and truthful than the regular invitation to the Lord’s Table. The Eucharist has been and is for good reason essentially incorporated into most Christian Sabbath traditions. As I experience it, the Sabbath Eucharist is one that calls me out of the modern economy and Millennial ego and into one of remembering my sustenance as provided by the creator.

To capture this invitation within modernity, I placed the Eucharist tabletop on a steel base, which draws nuance of Chicago’s El train public transportation system.  The city of Chicago is intensely important to me. It is a fountain of curious thought and eye-opening ingenuity from which I owe a great debt. Yet for all of it’s ideas, innovation, and opportunity, Sabbath is a stark and saving contrast to the rush and bustle of urban modernity. Sabbath rest, truthful awareness of the created order and its seasons, and sharing the Lord’s meal are my impetus for building a Eucharist Table because I am in need of this essential rhythm.

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Made in the PNW Holiday Pop Up Shop

Made in the PNW Holiday Pop Up Shop

Tomorrow we host our very first pop up: The Made in the PNW Holiday Pop Up Shop. As we’ve been prepping every last detail, I’ve been thinking about why we would choose to use our limited emotion and energy resources to put on a holiday shopping event.

Read More

The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table

The Sabbath Table was project I completed for a class here at The Seattle School in my first term last fall. This school encourages students to think wide and wild in the search for connections between theology, culture and psychology - and this project was just that exercise for me. It represents the most creative of my thinking last fall that draws together cultural listening, creative design, and spiritual theology.

In the poem which I engraved and inlaid with gold tinted resin, I sought to capture the profound invitation to rhythm and repetition that in inherent in all of creation - particularly in the rings of a tree. As I built this table I had in my mind a Eucharistic community that I hope one day to lead. I said to a friend just shortly after I finished the table, "I have the table, but I don't have the community!" Quite literally, I have started with the table - the eucharist table. This is a lesson to myself, which I also hope to lead others into; that in our theology, in our creativity, in our design, in our listening to culture we must always start at the eucharist table where Christ calls us to be his very breath, body and blood.

The engraving reads:

Every tree is a declaration, every ring an invitation.

Creation is guided by the rhythm of season and it will be no other way. Attend often to the table, attune to the Rhythm of Sabbath.

 

Similar to the table I created for my friends back in Chicago, this table sits atop a table leg I designed called "South Line." The juxtaposition of the urban table leg and the eucharistic poem engraved on the top of this table represent for me the stark juxtaposition which is the Euchastist meal.

 

sabbath_table-3 sabbath_table-6

Below is a short two-page paper I submitted with this project:

The first iteration of the Ten Commandments is found in Exodus 20. Within, is God’s direction to keep the Sabbath. Israel is told by God, via a transcript from Moses, to keep the Sabbath because God first kept the Sabbath. They are to rest from work and remember [Zakar] the Sabbath day as God’s design for creation. In their re-membering, they re-establish and re-build the Sabbath experience every seven days. They build a temple within time where they practice playful delight, lavishly experience the Earth’s goodness with food and relationship, and reverently respect and acknowledge each other, the other, and the creator above it all who set the created order in motion.

As an element of the created order, the Michigan Ash Wood tabletop is crosscut showing 68 years of growth rings. Being that it succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle in 2012, the rings date the tree to its germination in 1944. Each ring on the tree is a memory of the spring and summer growing seasons followed by harsh stagnant winters at my Dad’s lake house on Look Lake in Crystal, MI. It is also an open declaration that all around us every tree abides by seasons of growth and rest and holds within them a delicate record of recent seasons past.

Season and repetition are peculiar things to humans. We resist them, complain about them, and welcome them often all the same. It amazes me how my memory of winter seems to fade into gray-scale just as it comes back around and I find myself welcoming the first snowflake of December with joy and delight. Then, just as all hope of sunshine is beginning to fade and I am cursing the slow laden ground, the first sun-fueled thaw of late March pervades.  It is as if our memories have the propensity to forget just fast enough that each season feels new without being totally forgotten. Trees are brilliant catalogs of season. When cut and finished with care they serve as lifelong companions in our living spaces that remind us the world does not exist on a linear track. Rather, the real and tangible world moves with a fluxing heartbeat rhythm of work and rest.

Sabbath, is a special kind of season. Different then the rest of winter as observed by a tree, Sabbath is a weekly rest for women and men. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, Israel stands on the precipice of the Promise Land as they are re-told the Ten Commandments. Here, Israel is invited to Observe, [Shamar], the Sabbath because God liberated them from Egypt. This re-telling of the Sabbath command is focused on observing God’s work in Humanity.

In the Christian life, there is no experience more poignant and truthful than the regular invitation to the Lord’s Table. The Eucharist has been and is for good reason essentially incorporated into most Christian Sabbath traditions. As I experience it, the Sabbath Eucharist is one that calls me out of the modern economy and Millennial ego and into one of remembering my sustenance as provided by the creator.

To capture this invitation within modernity, I placed the Eucharist tabletop on a steel base, which draws nuance of Chicago’s El train public transportation system.  The city of Chicago is intensely important to me. It is a fountain of curious thought and eye-opening ingenuity from which I owe a great debt. Yet for all of it’s ideas, innovation, and opportunity, Sabbath is a stark and saving contrast to the rush and bustle of urban modernity. Sabbath rest, truthful awareness of the created order and its seasons, and sharing the Lord’s meal are my impetus for building a Eucharist Table because I am in need of this essential rhythm.

Other Categories

Posted in A/V Technology.