Dobbs Ferry, NY | March, 2014 - Overlooking the Hudson River just minutes away from Manhattan, Mercy College was founded in 1950 by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1961 it became a four-year college offering baccalaureate degrees. The school's stellar reputation draws students from all over the country, and Mercy College was featured in the book "Cool Colleges" as one of the most exciting schools in the United States.
The Rotunda is an important focus for all Mercy students and is a popular multi-purpose activity center. The historic structure was a former house of worship, and carries with it both the decor and the sonic character of a majestic old cathedral. Its soaring brick walls, stained glass windows and high, rounded shape and domed ceiling create a natural reverberance that makes even normal conversation nearly impossible.
Leo Garrison of Metro Sound Pros elaborates, "Picture a circle, with 50 ft stone walls, eight pillars and a massive video wall. The space is a natural reverb chamber." Depending on the event, a podium can be set up in any part of the room, creating an even greater challenge — designing a system that could achieve audio clarity amid this ever changing footprint.
Metro Sound Pros designed a solution utilizing a creative application of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Series IC7-II manually steered column arrays. Four pairs of columns are mounted at 90 degrees from each other, providing selectable coverage from any direction. The Iconyx steered beam technology enables the sound to be focused on the audience, and away from the walls, windows, and other problematic surfaces.
As Garrison explains, while the assignment was to deliver coverage and intelligibility, the building's landmark status meant that aesthetics trumped all else. "Protecting the room's historic architecture was of utmost importance," he states. "The profile of the IC7s are so small and slim, they just blend right in."
Garrison concludes, "With a project like this one, we always face a balance between the need to preserve the natural beauty of the architecture, and the need to create a space that is functional. The integration of the Iconyx series into the Mercy College Rotunda gave us the performance and intelligibility we needed, while maintaining the building's classic aesthetics. They were a great choice."