Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
EMPAC Concert Hall

Photo Credit: ESTO

Designed to be a first-class venue for symphonic music, yet equally capable of accommodating jazz, amplified music, presentations, film and dance with electronically generated sound and video projection, the EMPAC concert hall is configured traditionally in a “shoe box” format: as a long, narrow room of wood and masonry construction. The floor and lower walls are all finished in maple, while the upper walls are clad in a combination of precast acoustic panels made of gypsum and precast stone.

The ceiling, which is the most innovative feature of the concert hall, is made of panels of fabric less than one millimeter thick, supported on a delicate web of stainless steel cables. The fabric was specially selected and woven for EMPAC and is optimized for gentle reflectivity to high-frequency sound and increasing transparency to mid- and low-frequency sound, providing acoustic support to the musicians and audience while allowing the volume above the ceiling to generate reverberance. The ceiling panels form a convex shape overall and exhibit a gently glowing surface when illuminated.

  • Client: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Architect: Grimshaw Architects
  • Arch. of Record: Davis Brody Bond
  • Completion Year: 2008
  • Location: Troy, New York
  • Acoustician: Kirkegaard
  • Capacity: 1200 seats


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