Daniel R. Raichel Tanya Dragan Winston Wilkerson
Albert Nerken School of Eng., The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, 51 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003
The Great Hall, a place for public assembly in the lower level of the Foundation Building at the Cooper Union in New York City, is steeped in history. Constructed in 1859, it was the site where Abraham Lincoln have his ``Right Makes Might'' speech that catapulted him to the Republican presidential nomination. Many prominent speakers, including Mark Twain, feminist Victoria Woodhull, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, labor leader Samuel Gompers, and very recently President Clinton, graced the podium, a tradition that continues to this day; and the hall also accommodates musical events and theatrical productions. The Great Hall underwent reconstruction nearly 20 years ago, but recent concerns about its acoustical properties led to the authors' measurements of the reverberation times in different parts of the 900-seat auditorium. Reverberation times exceeding 3 s in the 125- to 1000-Hz range point up the existence of excessive echoes that made speech comprehension difficult for many members of the audience. Solutions are being developed to lower the reverberation times and to provide flexibility for meeting the requirements of different types of events, with due regard for the landmark status of the Foundation Building.