Already one of the largest facilities of its kind, Raleigh’s Museum of Natural Sciences recently completed work on an impressive new addition: the 80,000 square foot Nature Research Center (NRC).
Featuring state-of-the-art labs, research opportunities, and numerous interactive exhibits, the crown jewel of the new NRC wing is surely the SECU Daily Planet, an intensely immersive, three-story multimedia space that engages visitors with a flurry of sight and sound, while offering a powerful message about the wonders of science in our daily lives.
With its unique ellipsoidal shape and vantage points from a main level and two balconies, delivering audio consistently to all three levels presented numerous obstacles. Rising to the challenge were AV integrators Electrosonic, in partnership with Milford, CT-based SH Acoustics, who created a system centered around Renkus-Heinz’s Iconyx series steerable column arrays.
Designed to facilitate both pre-recorded and live content, the Daily Planet’s three-story visual display runs continually-projecting a variety of content to excite the senses. A small stage at ground level also allows for occasional live presentations.
The entire Daily Planet exhibit resides in a large, dome-shaped room with two balcony levels extending seven feet into its center. The three-level design allows visitors to choose from three unique vantage points as they take in any of up to 50 presentations that run throughout the day.
“Unlike similar spaces - for example, an Omnimax Theater - the Daily Planet needed to accommodate a variety of different formats, including lectures and live performances,” explained Steve Haas, Founder and President of SH Acoustics. “The room’s unique design and its numerous reflective elements created some unique challenges right from the beginning. We knew we couldn’t simply apply tons of sound-absorptive materials because deadening the room too much wouldn’t work well for lectures.”
As Haas observes, the Iconyx steerable beam technology would allow them to more effectively direct the output and avoid unwanted reflections, while at the same time addressing the unique acoustic requirements at all three levels.
“We decided very early that we wanted to create three different audio experiences on each of the three levels,” explained Haas. “In addition, each level needed to be surround sound, and most importantly, needed to ensure minimal interaction between adjacent levels and the rest of the room. This is where the Iconyx system was a no-brainer.”
The complete Renkus-Heinz loudspeaker complement includes eight Iconyx IC8-R-II steerable arrays for mains, augmented by ten SG61-2R powered two-way systems for surround, with three PN112SUB 12-inch powered subwoofers providing powerful low-end reinforcement.