Founded in 1981 by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living Foundation has evolved to become one of the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian and educational non-governmental organizations.
Working with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the Foundation offers programs dedicated to health, education, eliminating stress, and restoring human values in more than 140 countries worldwide.
One of the Foundation’s most treasured retreats is The International Center for Meditation and Well-Being, located in the lush, rolling hills of the Great Smokey Mountains. It’s an idyllic piece of Planet Earth, where visitors can immerse themselves in the grandeur of nature, while retuning their bodies and minds with yoga, meditation, and organic diet.
The retreat’s Meditation Hall is a large, multi-purpose space that is used for everything from yoga and meditation classes to dance events and performances. As Jeff Hedgecock, Project Manager for AVI-SPL in Charlotte, NC explains, the room is visually appealing but acoustically challenging.
“It’s a very large space, very bright and airy and open, with nice high ceilings,” says Hedgecock. “But when they have someone leading a yoga or mediation class, intelligibility is quite an issue. And that’s not a scenario where one wants to shout, so for people at the back of the room it’s very difficult to concentrate on the instruction being given.”
A single pair of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC16-R-II provided an ideal solution for the room’s sonic challenges.
“They hold some dance events and performances there as well, so the musical performance of the Iconyx was equally critical,” says Hedgecock.
The Iconyx’s multiple steerable beams can be individually attenuated to provide uniform coverage and SPL across even the most challenging spaces. “That’s one of the things that’s great about the Iconyx - we were able to steer the beam to make the whole hall sound great,” says Hedgecock.
The design-build system is streamlined and uncomplicated. A Biamp Red One handles simple volume and source selection, with all audio routed directly to the Iconyx columns. As Hedgecock observes, aesthetics was also a consideration here.
“The fact that we were able to paint the speakers to pretty much blend into the walls was a major advantage for them,” he explains. He points to his own previous experience with Iconyx as instrumental in trying them at the Foundation. “I’ve used Iconyx on a couple of other problematic spaces, and was pretty certain it would be a good fit here.”