The J&C Joel team, led by Tony Griffiths, played a vital role in ensuring that the 420-seat Curtis Auditorium has the flexibility to provide the right acoustic environment for a variety of musical performances - from piano recitals to full choral works. A plenum (the sound-proofed concealed roof space) dense with heating ducting, drainage pipes and other services inevitably created challenges for the placement of the suspension and movement control equipment required for the seven panels. The specification here comprises a network of diversion and drop pulleys, utilising 13 J&C Joel Pilewind winches and 56 suspension cables attached to the acoustic panels.
The panels were all constructed and installed by J&C Joel. The largest one - measuring 16sqm - is vertically raised and lowered, and sits directly over the auditorium's seating area. Weighing 13,000 Kgs, this is raised and lowered by 24 separate steel cables terminating back via an arrangement of diversion pulleys connected to a series of head pulleys.
Cable termination is via a 6m high counter-weight cradle located behind the auditorium's acoustic side walls. A 2,000kg J&C Joel Pilewind winch unit is installed to control the load and speed of operation, enabling access for maintenance staff and handling the 'out of balance cradle heavy load'.
The remaining Curtis Auditorium stage and floor-space is covered by the six other acoustic panels, the smallest of which is 4sqm. A pair of 1,000kg, electrically-operated J&C Joel Pilewind winch units per panel - linked via a control station - enable the panels to travel up and down vertically, and tilt to up to 30 degrees to ensure the right acoustic effect.
"It was a very difficult job - one of the most challenging we have taken on," J&C Joel head fitter Frank Stewart told II. "There were various problems along the way, but eventually we got around them. The School is very happy with the end-result."