Annenberg Public Policy Center

Photo by Target Building Construction

University of Pennsylvania
Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC)
Philadelphia, PA
Designer: Fumihiko Maki


The new TV broadcast studio at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania is an excellent example of how our design process can optimize the studio experience. Construction on the APPC building, designed by Fumihiko Maki, was completed in 2009, but the space reserved for the studio hadn’t been finished. When we first visited the studio, it was surrounded by a single stud wall with gypsum board on the outside only, the concrete slab was recessed, and there was no ceiling. The trolley passing by on the street was audible in the room and there was concern this would be picked up by microphones. To address this, room within a room construction was used. A floating floor filled in the existing recess and interior stud walls with multiple layers of gypsum board were built on top of the floating floor. A gypsum board ceiling was suspended from the deck with spring isolation hangers. Given the rectangular shape of the studio, we devised a layout for acoustic panels to reduce the reverberation time and ensure that no hard surfaces were directly across from each other. Final testing revealed a ¼ second reverberation time and no discernible echoes could be heard in the room. Additionally, the trolley was inaudible.

We were also involved with the mechanical system design. Duct lining, low airflow, and low noise diffusers were used to achieve a maximum background sound level of NC-18. To minimize the sound from equipment racks in the control room, they were enclosed with a custom glass storefront system. This allowed for good isolation while keeping the equipment accessible. The studio opened successfully in the summer of 2011.

To minimize the architectural impact that the A/V system has on the Gould Rehearsal Hall, the speakers were painted black and mounted above and between the acoustic clouds, and all of the local A/V system equipment is housed within custom casework. These efforts to minimize the aesthetic impact of the A/V system were reflected in the other spaces at Lenfest Hall, including the classrooms, larger practice rooms, a dining hall, and the Locks Board Room. Thanks to advances in A/V technology, the spaces are equipped with projection systems that feature a “wireless connect” option, which allows anyone in the room with a wireless network connection to transmit their presentation directly to the projector without connecting a single cable. All of the A/V systems installed at Curtis are managed and monitored 24/7 by an A/V management software and hardware package. This provides maintenance data, room statuses, remote helpdesk information, and troubleshooting capabilities to Curtis’s A/V staff from on and off campus.