Foam ameliorates Pavilion acoustics

Jessie Markovetz

Thanks to a quarter-million dollar renovation, people attending lectures and concerts at the Pavilion may now have the benefit of hearing and understanding what the speaker or performer has to say.

“Before [the work was done], the building had very high reverberation times,” said Marilou Smith, a project engineer in the Facilities Management Office.

She continued, “If someone wasn’t standing right in front of you, you couldn’t hear them.”

The University brought an acoustics consultant to the Pavilion, who performed a battery of tests on the building and advised Facilities Management to spray an inch of K-13, an insulator made of recycled materials, on the ceiling at a cost of $285,000.

“It almost looks like a brown carpet was installed on the ceiling,” Smith said. “We cut our reverberations in half.”

Initial reaction to the improved Pavilion has been positive, according to Smith.

“Everyone had nice things to say at Orientation,” she said.

This is a good indicator since events targeted to the entire student body require the generous seating provided by the Pavilion.

The University has received the news of the improved Pavilion with great anticipation.

“The Pavilion is still not ideal, but it’s a lot better than it was,” said Maura McDaid, adviser of the Campus Activities Team. “We hope to plan more events there, depending on availability.”

One upcoming event likely to benefit from these improvements will be an address by noted author Frank McCourt during Parents Weekend.

“It’s not the ideal location for an intimate setting, but we are happy with the improvements to the sound,” said Tom Mogan, director of Student Development.

He continued, “We feel [McCourt] will easily outsell the Villanova Room and will have to be moved to the Pavilion.”

Most recently, the Pavilion prevented both students and their parents from hearing Polish revolutionary Lech Walesa’s address during last year’s Parents Weekend events, though Mogan feels the speech was saved by the strong speaking skills of the translator.

Despite the improved sound, McDaid has not committed to using the building to host future concerts, calling the new setup untested.

“The size is the main drawback,” she said. “To get an act to fill the Pavilion is beyond CAT’s budget.

“We’re trying to find if there’s a way to … curtain off space to reduce the size.”

CAT’s most recent concerts have been held in the Villanova Room, which has a maximum capacity of 500 people.

The Student Development office has resorted to renting trees and curtaining sections of the building off in order to make it appear more full, Mogan said, as even with 2,000 patrons at a speech it appears empty.

No other plans to improve the building are planned, but the noisy vents in the basketball offices, which contribute to the noise difficulties inside the Pavilion, will be modified next summer, said Smith.