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Klarman Hall, Harvard Business School Benson Photography

New Auditorium at Harvard Business School Demanded Silent Lighting

The real challenge was to meet the needs of both the end-user and the acoustical criteria of the design team.

Harvard Business School in Boston recently opened Klarman Hall, a state-of-the-art lecture auditorium. The 120,000-square-foot auditorium, with 1,000 seats, would be asked to host variety of events, from intimate MBA discussions to podcasts and other online educational opportunities.

Designers with architectural firm William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc., saw that the hall needed a lighting solution that could meet strict acoustic and performance criteria, so they worked with the design firm Theatre Projects.

“In an atmosphere where people needed to hear each other clearly throughout the hall, the criteria from the acoustician was that the lighting had to be ideally convection-cooled, or near-silent,” said Steven Rust, Theatre Projects’ lighting designer. “One thing we have learned over the years is that there really is no such thing as a silent fan, so we needed to find a solution that was completely convection-cooled.”

Klarman Hall features about 50 very sensitive microphones that hang from the ceiling to pick up an audience member speaking to the presenter, or others in the room. Any fan noise in the luminaires could trigger the microphone system and create challenges for the presenters and audience members, Rust said.

Theater Projects specified PHX 150W LED profile luminaires from Altman Lighting. As one of the only convection-cooled LED profile fixtures available today, the PHX 150W LED profile is designed for venues desiring superior, energy-efficient lighting in an acoustically sensitive environment.

Altman’s lighting systems include a standard fixed beam, zoom ranges from 15-35 or 30-55 degrees, a 360-degree rotating barrel, and a die-cast aluminum frame. The luminaire is also available in several LED choices including RGBA, RGBW, 3000K, 5600K, and tunable white versions.

“Another challenge to the design was that the room needed to be able to function in many different configurations and be able to accommodate multiple audience sizes,” Rust said. “Since the room would be used in a variety of configurations, we needed to make sure that the field of light was consistent for 180-degrees, so we ended up specifying 30 PHX 150W luminaires for the balcony rail locations. That was definitely the real challenge on the project: to meet the needs of both the end-user and the acoustical criteria of the design team, but the PHX 150W passed with flying colors.”

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