Beirut, Lebanon | October, 2013 – The tall, domed central hall of the Lebanese Parliament building in Beirut has long been known as an acoustically challenging environment. But after many years and numerous attempts, a recent renovation has brought the building’s rogue reverberation under control, bringing clarity and high intelligibility to the iconic space with Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steered array loudspeakers.
The building, designed in 1931 by Beaux-Arts architect Mardiros Altounian, is believed to be on the site of the Roman Forum of Berytus, where the Roman School of Law stood before being leveled by the great earthquake of 551 AD. During Lebanon’s civil war, the structure suffered considerable damage, and its renovation is a symbol of the vision involved in the reconstruction of Beirut city center.
The parliament building’s architecture, in particular the dome, has long presented challenges with reflectivity and poor speech intelligibility — certainly a major drawback for any debating chamber.
Today, the building is a blend of heritage architecture with a modern interior complete with contemporary high-tech amenities, including a pair of Iconyx steerable arrays specified and installed by system integrators Mac Audio sarl. Mac Audio specified Iconyx, using its beam steering capabilities to focus audio beams on individual seating areas and away from the roof and walls. The project proved an interesting and enjoyable audio challenge, said Nader Arzouni, General Manager of Mac Audio. “We deal with all the Lebanese Republic’s government departments,” he said proudly, “including the Prime Minister’s office and parliament buildings.”
The ground floor’s main area, with seating for 165 including 128 deputies, is covered by two Iconyx IC8 columns, with a pair of IC7 mechanically steerable units for the president’s podium. Two IC16s serve the balcony level, where up to 100 guests can be accommodated.
Two Shure feedback eliminators, one for the balcony and another for the main hall, a Crest Audio rackmount mixer and a single XTA DP448 controller to add even more flexibility to the main floor’s IC8s, complete the system. A final touch was the provision of Renkus-Heinz SGX41 compact cabinets for the Prime Minister’s residential palace.
As the technical skills of the system operators can vary widely, Mac Audio preset the system so that very little adjustment is needed, making life as simple for them as possible.
“It’s all very good,” said Nader Arzouni, “a very flexible, modern system that has completely
eliminated all the old intelligibility issues and delivered crystal clear sound that parliament is delighted with.”