Home > Awards   +   Structures



Showpiece Performance Venue Boasts Unique Structural and Acoustical System

 WASHINGTON, DC – raSmith of Brookfield, Wisc., has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 53rd annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for the Hamel Music Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Designers wanted the building’s acoustics and sound isolation to be top-tier for exceptional performances, not an easy task given traffic noise from nearby University Avenue, lobby chatter, loud HVAC systems, and music played in adjacent halls. The solution was to make the concert, recital, and rehearsal halls as three separate buildings within one large overall building. Each hall is self-supporting and isolated from the main lobby to the overall building and required support space using double-wall construction.

The concert hall’s interior walls are lined with an acoustical coffer system, a series of strategically sized and placed circles. Along with providing superior sound treatment, the system blends beautifully with the rest of the hall’s aesthetics. Concealed reverberation chamber areas, where sound actually passes through, flank the stage. Now part of a new gateway linking the University with the community, the Hamel Music Center offers a busy performance schedule, with nearly double the number of events of its predecessor facility.

The project is eligible for additional honors as part of a record 203 entries this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February and was conducted by a national 35-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners—20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement—will take place at the annual EEA Dinner and Gala, a black-tie event to be held Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing more than 5,200 independent engineering firms and more than 600,000 professionals throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, along with environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities. Founded in 1906 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 52 state and regional organizations.