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Benaroya Hall and Orchestra Hall Project Profile

Two concert halls show how USG plaster systems can give audiences the best acoustical experience possible.

Benaroya Hall

Using plaster for critical elements in Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Washington was a strategy to achieve the same look of great concert halls of the past in addition to provide the best sound quality and vibration. The ceiling in the main auditorium, the fixed-stage shell, balconies and soffits and fascias were all constructed or finished with plaster.

Most of the plaster applications in the main auditorium and a recital hall consist of high-density, job-sanded STRUCTO-BASE® Gypsum Plaster over metal lath on steel studs. These applications were finished with STRUCTO-GUAGE® Gauging Plaster and finishing lime. Other areas of the complex used the Imperial® Veneer Plaster system for durability and appearance.

Orchestra Hall

The emphasis of the renovation of Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Illinois was on changing the size and shape of the hall to increase the reverberation time and eliminate echo for the best listening quality for symphonic music. An important factor in reverberation time is the acoustical reflection of the wall and ceiling surfaces.

High-strength conventional plaster was the best material to use to obtain the needed mass and density. Plaster on sidewalls and some parts of the ceiling was 4 inches thick. To attain the 4-inch-thick plaster, two layers of metal lath were needed. At upper walls, a layer of lath was screw-attached to the backside of 4-inch steel studs. Then high-density, job-sanded STRUCTO-BASE® Gypsum Plaster was applied to a thickness equal to that of the studs, followed by another layer of lath attached to the front side of the studs and more plaster. The finish was RED TOP® Gauging Plaster and finishing lime.

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People Involved

James Cade, LMN Architects Architecture Firm

Dawn Schuette, Kirkegaard & Associates Acoustical Consultants