Acentech’s Studio A Completes Acoustics, IT, and AV System Design for Deerfield Academy’s Hess Center for the Arts


photo credit: Emily O'Brien

Interior of Deerfield Academy’s Hess Center for the Arts / photo credit Emily O’Brien

Cambridge, MA – Acentech’s Studio A has completed the acoustics, information technology, and audiovisual system design for the expansion and renovation of Deerfield Academy’s Hess Center for the Arts. Founded in 1797, Deerfield Academy is an independent, co-educational boarding school in the western Massachusetts town of Deerfield.

The 80,000sf Hess Center renews and expands the historic Memorial Building and provides a state-of-the-art visual and performing arts complex for the school.

Collaborating with ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, Studio A consulted on architectural acoustics, mechanical system noise control, and audiovisual system and information technology system design for the center’s expansion and renovation.

The renovation of the school’s main Hess Auditorium increases seating to 800 seats and upgrades the lobby, stage technology, lighting, and acoustics. The renovated building provides additional space for music recording facilities, numerous new music rehearsal rooms, several classrooms and art studios, a second dance studio, and new infrastructure for the existing black box theater. Studio A provided acoustics consulting for all aspects of the $24 million project, which is expected to achieve LEED certification.

Through careful use and specification of sound-absorbing materials, noise control of mechanical systems, and constructions that achieve excellent sound isolation, Studio A ensured that the Hess Center would meet strict LEED requirements for acoustical performance and other stringent acoustical design goals.


Specifically designed for classical music performance and pedagogy, the new and striking 160-seat Elizabeth Wachsman Concert Hall is both intimate and warmly resonant, with adjustable features that allow users to vary the room’s acoustics to suit the occasion. Diligent sound isolation and an extraordinarily quiet mechanical system ensure that noise does not compete with the music. The Hess Center also contains a new art gallery, The Von Auersperg Gallery.

Studio A designed the audiovisual systems in the auditorium and concert hall to include sound reinforcement systems that are tailored specifically for each space in order to optimize speech intelligibility and audio clarity. Large video projection display systems, compatible with today’s digital video standards, were also incorporated into both the auditorium and concert hall. Studio A’s audiovisual design included video displays and audio playback systems for each classroom, wired and wireless backstage communications, and video and audio monitoring of the black box theater’s performance area in the lobby and green room.