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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Dean Reese Heerwagen
ARCH 436
Seattle Campus

Building Acoustics

Description of principles and practices for manipulating and enhancing sound in buildings. Information about sound behavior and the organization of architectural elements (deployment of design features, including various geometries and materials) for the control of sound in enclosed spaces and between adjacent spaces.

Class description

Discussion of the principles and practices associated with manipulating and enhancing sound in buildings (and in external spaces adjacent to buildings). Descriptions are offered about how sound behaves in open and enclosed spaces and what combinations of building elements – design features including various forms, materials, and surface finishes – will enable the control of sound in these spaces (and between adjacent spaces).

Student learning goals

Have insight about the properties of sound and noise

How to promote communication via sound (speech and music)

How to achieve acoustic privacy (and separation from noise)

Via solving the two assigned problems (with each student working as a member of a small-group, interdisciplinary team), examine and execute practices for incorporating acoustical thinking for building design

General method of instruction

Lectures complemented by demonstrations and readings, with the lecture topics sequences to enable problem-solving (for the two assigned problems)

Recommended preparation

I've had students ranging in academic experience from freshmen to PhD candidates take this class and find success in working with the subject matter and solving the problems. Maybe, the most necessary prerequisites are an interest (and curiosity) about acoustics and a willingness to engage in problem-solving.

Class assignments and grading

The students – working in small-group, interdisciplinary teams – are asked to prepare solutions, give oral presentations, and compose reports for the following two exercises: • Problem #1, Laying out an architects’ office (with consideration for both internal and urban site noise control) • Problem #2, Design of a multi-purpose, medium-sized performance space (essentially, a classroom seating about 120-140 students for both musical recital and lecture presentations).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Dean Reese Heerwagen
Date: 03/03/2014