Concordia University’s R. Howard Webster Library benefits from large-scale renovation and upgrade including premium Genelec audio system.
When Concordia University in Montreal first opened its R. Howard Webster Library in 1992, it was a pivotal resource for students and staff, both for research purposes and as a place to work. At the time the university numbered 16,000 students. Today that figure has more than tripled to over 46,000. Consequently, the Webster Library has been undergoing a radical transformation in order to create a quality study space capable of handling the significantly increased traffic, and provide access to a more modern range of services. As part of the renewal project, the university has integrated a total of eight Genelec architectural loudspeakers that fit seamlessly into the sleek design of the Webster Library lobby. The flawless sound definition allows students to visit the library while enjoying a truly pleasant sensory experience.
The brief for Concordia’s IITS (Instructional and Information Technology Services) department was to design an audio installation as discreet as it is welcoming, acting as a transition between the calm of the officia library space and frenzy of everyday student life that reigns at the entrance of the library staircase. However, the project was subject to significant architectural, mechanical, and acoustical constraints. Given the space available in the ceiling and the materials used for the wall construction, the challenge was to create an audio environment of optimal quality, with a clean design.
Max Di Bitonto, technology coordinator at IITS, and Paul Fournier, information systems and technology manager at the library, agreed to consult pro audio and AV specialists, SFM, on which products to use. As Di Bitonto rightly points out, “Since the original concept was to obtain a soundscape that filled the entire space, while avoiding sound from spreading to the public area at the bottom of the stairs, the audio configuration had to be impeccable.”
SFM suggested the use of high-end Genelec products. Claude Ricard, SFM Sales Representative, and Mr. Di Bitonto worked together to define the concept and select the speakers. Mr. Ricard immediatelyproposed Genelec AIW25 active loudspeakers, which can be utilised both in-wall and inceiling. Seamlessly integrated into the ceiling, AIW25 loudspeakers use Directivity Control Waveguide technology to produce a wide but controlled listening area. These eight loudspeakers work independently, offering multiple possibilities for future audio experiences.
"Such an exceptional space deserves a high-quality sound zone."
Mike Calo, Genelec brand manager at SFM, explains the relevance of using AIW25 loudspeakers in a major project such as the Webster Library: “Such an exceptional space deserves a high-quality sound zone. Genelec offers a wide range of self-powered loudspeakers which are specifically designed for different types of indoor, professional or commercial installations. These built-in loudspeakers are not only powerful, precise and compact, they are also designed with an undeniable aesthetic concern. In addition, the 2-way amplification module with acoustic correction is easy to integrate via a standard 4U rack-mount kit. Finally, the built-in loudspeakers offer the technology needed to reach the target audience of a project, and therefore unleashing unbridled creativity.”
A few good brainstorming sessions and rigorous planning were needed to provide the best possible products for the implementation of such an important project. “To enrich the concept and optimise loudspeaker performance, I advised the Concordia University team to include the QSC CORE110F Digital Audio Server. This server incorporates a multitrack audio player and an easily accessible time grid via the Q-Sys Administrator application, as well as many other features intrinsic to the Q-Sys system. To further perfect this installation, I proposed the Furman PL-8C, a device that keeps the equipment safe in the event of a major breakdown or other unforeseen events,” adds Ricard. Following a rigorous tender, Sono Vidéo, an audio-video solutions company, was selected to carry out the sale and oversee the final installation of this project.
“Some students even take the time to sit on the stairs and listen to the songs from beginning to end."
The server has access to all audio material owned by the Webster Library, which offers the ability to educate and broaden students’ horizons even as they are entering or leaving the library. It provides a sensory experience that “speaks”, in terms of the quality of the space, services, and tools offered by the library. It is this type of vision, combining an immaculate plan and an intelligently designed soundscape, that makes a school a better place for all.
The initiative has been well received on behalf of the students with many expressing their appreciation of the originality and effectiveness of the approach. “Some students even take the time to sit on the stairs and listen to the songs from beginning to end, which is great as they are often coming across material they’ve never heard before,” says Di Bonito proudly. Others have said that this short moment before entering or leaving the library is a little haven of peace and a moment to savour… compared to the hustle and bustle at the bottom of the stairs!”
8 x AIW25