Bridgestone Technical Center Gets Great Sound with Iconyx

Akron, OH | September, 2012 - Akron, Ohio has a long and storied history as the heart of the US tire business. In April of 2012 the city celebrated that proud heritage with the grand opening of Bridgestone Americas' 260,000-square-foot worldwide technical center. The USD $100m research and development facility was designed by architects Harris/Day to exceed Gold LEED standards, and it shows. The building features wide, open spaces, a "living roof" with gardens and lounge areas, and plenty of natural light thanks to an abundance of glass throughout.

The showcase structure's east and west wings intersect at a massive three-story atrium area that serves as building's social nexus.

The common space is outfitted with a large video wall, and serves as the hub of the technical center's communications with the outside world, and with the company's headquarters in Tennessee.

Of course, three stories of glass, while visually stunning, tends to create a less than optimal acoustical setting. As Gary Matthews of Middleburg Heights, OH-based Audio Video Interiors explains, even with a fair amount of acoustical treatment, the environment was a challenging one.

"It's a big, open, reverberant space," he says. "They did a great job in treating the back wall, which helps a lot, but it's still a large, glassed-in space, with a high level of ambient noise, and intelligibility inevitably suffers."

The architect's vision included a desire for low-profile audio and video components, but the design was at odds with that goal. "Their original proposal was for 34 individual loudspeakers hung on walls and on ceilings throughout the area," says Matthews. "They came to us and asked if there was anything they could do differently, because they didn't want to see so many speakers."

AVI's recommendation was for three Renkus-Heinz Iconyx steered steered arrays to cover the entire area.

"So we got it down from 34 speakers, to three Iconyx ICX7 units built into the video wall, with zero visibility. And the sound coverage is far superior, with no distribution issues and no dead spots."
With an Ashly Pêma 8x8 amplifier and signal processor already in place, AVI opted for the ICX7 passive system instead of the powered version.

"We built pockets for them in the walls, and you can't even see that they're there," says Matthews. A Listen Technologies assistive listening system and a pair of Shure SLX wireless mic systems completes the audio system.

"The Iconyx system was perfect for aiming the sound only at the areas we wanted to cover, and away from the walls and windows," Matthews concludes.