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Sound in the Glass Thorncrown Chapel, Part 1

Feb 6, 2014 10:51 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Installing a sound system in a big glass house. That’s what FBP Systems was called in to do. Robert Coggins and Mark LaBouff are going to tell us how they turned around what had been a series of less-than-successful sound systems in the nearly all-glass Thorncrown Chapel. That’s coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Robert Coggins and Mark LaBouff, thanks for joining us for the SVC Podcast from the Tulsa, Oklahoma office of FBP Systems. We’ve got a fantastic sound system installation to talk about, but first tell us about FBP Systems. What do you do there and what sort of projects do you handle?

Robert: Well, we are a design-build AV integrator and we do the full spectrum of AV projects from lighting, architectural lighting, acoustics, sound, video, broadcast video. We’re a subsidiary of the Morse Group, which consists of electrical contracting, wind farms, drywall, manufacturing automations. So we’re a small piece of the big pie.

And you’ve got one of the most remarkable and challenging projects with the Thorncrown Chapel out in the Ozarks and you only have to get one look at this place and you want to know more.

Mark: /b> It’s fantastic. You’re right.

Describe Thorncrown Chapel. If you want to see an actual glass house I think this would have to be it.

Mark: /b> It sure would. You wouldn’t want to throw any stones in this one.

How big is this place and how is it all put together?

Robert: Thorncrown Chapel, it was built in 1979, and the AIA awarded it with the gold medal in 1990 and it’s considered the fourth in the top 10 buildings of the 20th Century, so it does have some recognition. It’s got 6,000 square feet of glass and 425 windows and a flagstone floor, so needless to say, it’s quite an acoustical challenge. [Timestamp: 2:22]

Yeah, that place is just about one big window and the way that it fits into the lay of the land around it, it’s just a big glass house way out in the woods.

Robert: It sure is, and it is beautiful. It is a great view and a lot of weddings; they’re booked all year around. [Timestamp: 2:40]

Oh, I’ll bet and your pictures from whatever your event in that place would really be something. I’ve seen it described though as an acoustical nightmare, though, but you see that with a lot of churches not constructed for modern sound systems. But they had tried several times before. How were the situations with previous sound systems in there?

Robert: They basically have had three different sound systems and none of them worked. They were either unintelligible or fed back or, for whatever reason, they never worked. They were really reluctant to just take somebody’s word for it, that a system design would work in there. The architect had built two speaker enclosures and you couldn’t do anything to those enclosures. You had to leave them; you couldn’t alter them in any way. So we had to use those enclosures and we had to make it work. So obviously, no pressure. [Timestamp: 3:36]

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