The new David Brower Center’s low carbon footprint has made an impression on the environmentally progressive city of Berkeley, California. From photovoltaic power and natural lighting to compact Meyer Sound audio systems in the gallery, auditorium, and meeting rooms, the building is both earth-friendly and inspirationally high-tech. Occupants of the center’s office space include advocacy groups such as Bay Area Open Space Council, Center for Ecoliteracy, Earth Island Institute, and 350.org.
“We are thrilled to feature Berkeley-based, world-class Meyer Sound equipment,” says Amy Tobin, executive director of the Brower Center. “It’s a perfect fit for the Brower Center — a new home for environmental and social action with local roots and aspirations to inspire global change.”
The principal architect for the David Brower Center is Daniel Solomon, of San Francisco-based Solomon E.T.C – WRT, with the sound systems designed by San Francisco-based consultants Charles Salter Associates and installed by the Hayward, California contracting firm McKinney Associates. The building features speech reinforcement systems in the main floor lobby and two conference rooms, as well as independent speech and surround playback systems in the auditorium.
The center’s auditorium has been outfitted with a high-performance playback system for music and cinema. Front left-center-right UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers are augmented by six UPJunior Vario9 loudspeakers for surround channels. Two 750-P subwoofers provide rich low-frequency coverage (a portable version of the X-800 studio subwoofers), and a Galileo loudspeaker management system provides system drive and processing. “The room itself is fan-shaped with a curved rear wall and could have presented some acoustical challenges,” says Salter Associates’ Tom Corbett, “but the Meyer loudspeakers’ outstanding performance combined with the warmth of the room’s natural bamboo walls, resulted in a truly wonderful sounding room.”
Three more UPJunior boxes comprise a separate voice reinforcement system for the auditorium. “It’s a very multi-purpose room, used for everything from lectures to screenings,” says Corbett, “and it’s great to have a dedicated system for spoken word, rather than having to repurpose the surround system to do double-duty.”
The building’s vast lobby gallery, with its high ceilings and an abundance of glass and concrete, is another area that offered the potential for excessive reflectivity. A highly focused distributed system of 14 strategically located MM-4XP miniature loudspeakers minimizes reflected energy throughout the space with nominal visual impact.
Another distributed system in the upstairs conference room utilizes 12 ceiling-mounted Stella-4C installation loudspeakers to create a system with minimal visibility and exceptionally natural sound. “The ceiling-mounted speakers enable the room to be used flexibly, with the ‘front’ of the room located in more than one dedicated location,” Corbett explains. The smaller downstairs conference room is outfitted with a pair of UPJunior boxes, wall-mounted in a more traditional configuration.
“For me as a systems designer, one of the rewarding aspects of this project has been the opportunity to create a system that doesn’t compromise sound quality,” Corbett says. “This is a building that has been designed to last for many years, and no one will ever have to make excuses for the audio quality. The systems sound absolutely stunning.”
“Often in designing a project, audio is among the early casualties of budget limitations, and sadly that means making compromises,” Corbett continues. “Meyer Sound really stepped up and worked closely with us and the center to create a system that was worthy of such a landmark project. Their contributions have made a tremendous difference to the end result.”
The David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza, an affordable housing community adjacent to the Brower Center, have recently received the Building a Better Bay Area – Urban Design Award from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).