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Tepper Quad Grand Opening

September 2018


Carnegie Mellon University

Grand Opening of the David A. Tepper Quadrangle

System Designer & Engineer – Scott MacDonald


  • Grand-opening ceremony for a new business school complex, held in a four-story glass atrium

  • Sound system design and event planning consultation

  • Produced draftings that were supplied to other contractors

  • Press support and frequency coordination

  • Integration with the building A/V system for overflow viewing space

System Overview:

  • First Floor Mains: 4x EAW KF300e

  • First Floor Delay Zone: 2x EAW KF300e

  • 1st Balcony: 2x L-Acoustics 108p

  • 2nd Balcony: 3x L-Acoustics 108p

  • 3rd Balcony: 2x Mackie SRM350v3

  • Console: Yamaha QL1

  • Podium mics, wireless mics, video content playback, pre- and post-show music

          In the fall of 2018, Carnegie Mellon University opened the Tepper Quad, a new complex for the Tepper School of Business consisting of two buildings joined by a glass atrium. The university wanted a grand opening held inside the building, no small feat because the atrium posed a myriad of acoustical and practical challenges. The architecture consists primarily of glass and concrete surfaces, with glass railings along the balconies, limiting options for loudspeaker placement and aiming while needing coverage in many areas. On the other hand, the event entailed a high standard for aesthetic quality – the sound system could not be overly distracting, and everything needed to be neat and seamless. Despite these challenges I was excited to tackle this event. The resulting system was one of the most interesting I’ve designed to date. 

          This project required the coordination of roughly a dozen contractors and university offices. For this project I was working for CMU's in-house production company, AB Tech. Video cameras, video walls, TVs, live streaming, and overflow space A/V were all being handled by a combination of ourselves and two additional contractors, necessitating clear communication. While our project manager was at home abroad during part of the planning phases, I served as the point-person for AB Tech, communicating with the client and updating paperwork. 

          Due to rigging limitations and the many glass surfaces, a distributed system would allow better speaker positioning and clarity with lower sound levels. We did not want an unsightly cable loom running vertically between balconies, so I rented a rack of Sennheiser IEM transmitters and dedicated one receiver to each delay zone on the balconies. For seamless cable management we ordered gray gaff tape to match the concrete floors. The event entailed a lot of logistical components such as running sound and video to an overflow space and integrating into the building A/V system, and providing press feeds and support for live stream and a teleprompter technician. The event was a great success thanks to the hard work of the many people involved. 

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