Geodesic domes and shipping containers were innovatively transformed into a futuristic staging ground for Boston’s third annual HUBweek this past October at City Hall Plaza. The festival brought together more than 50,000 of the most creative and inventive minds in art, science, and technology for demonstrations, performances, and workshops devoted to attacking big problems in our society. The main focus on making life better and improving the human condition at both a local and global level.
Founded in 2014, HUBweek is a collaboration between The Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT. Boston-based High Output, the designated audio-visual production company for the event, partnered with VUE Audiotechnik to provide complete audio services for the largest of the domes and the main stage.
High Output deployed VUE’s al-4 subcompact line array elements, which hung in groups of 4 inside the 99-foot—wide, 45-foot-high main dome, along with hs-221 subwoofers for low-end support. According to High Output president and co-founder John Cini, the combination of the unique venue shape, along with wide range of presented material, posed unique challenges that were addressed by the versatile VUE al-class line arrays.
“HUBweek organizers wanted to create a truly multi-purpose, memorable environment for attendees that was every bit as innovative and technologically advanced as the presentation’s themselves” explains Cini. “Furthermore, given the range of content — from the spoken word to the music of almost every genre — the system had to offer both intelligibility as well as output and range.”
Cini continues, “Also, given the temporary, lightweight nature of the domes that sat atop the Plaza’s parking structure, weight considerations were of utmost importance. The VUE al-class delivered on all fronts: high-impact, clarity, and lightweight. They’re a lot of bang for the buck.”
All six domes were manufactured by Poland-based Freedomes, with the largest — the Hyper Dome — showcasing their latest technology. Featuring an elevated, slightly angled dome top, the Hyper Dome allowed audiences to enjoy theater-style seating, while the VUE al-4 arrays delivered a full, 360-degree immersive audio experience.
“The geometric dome was a very challenging shape with the potential to sound very bad with the wrong type of loudspeaker system,” Cini elaborates. “VUE line arrays are extremely accurate with very predictable dispersion. This helped us to easily direct sound exactly where we wanted it while avoiding any trouble areas. We had the line arrays up and running very quickly and the results were impressive.”
This year’s HUBweek featured talks by over 500 scientists, musicians, and journalists, who were conveying their knowledge and artistry through video projections and live performances. The festival also included a “robot block party” with more than two dozen bots showcasing the latest in robotic technology. They provided demos of products to come, highlighting the Massachusetts robotics ecosystem.
Other events featured Malcolm Gladwell, who interviewed writer and surgeon Atul Gawande; integrative medicine pioneer Deepak Chopra; and George Church, a Harvard geneticist who has drawn attention for his efforts to resurrect the woolly mammoth.