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Optimizing Acoustics in Recreational Facilities

The Arlen Specter US Squash Center

The Arlen Specter US Squash Center is a 65,000 square-foot-facility on the campus of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Housing eighteen singles courts and two hardball doubles courts, it is the home of the US Squash national headquarters and US Squash Hall of Fame, and host to national championships, adult and junior recreational play. 

Visitors to the space are met with sprawling views up to the impressively high ceiling viewable anywhere from the central mezzanine. Looking around, they’ll note a frenzy of activity both on and around the squash courts. One thing they will not be met with however—excessive noise. 

“In recreational facilities such as this, one would expect to hear what sometimes is referred to as sneaker squeak,” explained Kevan Mann, Business Development Manager at Sound Seal, a leading manufacturer of acoustical noise control products. “If you’ve been to any gymnasium either as an athlete or spectator, you know precisely what I mean.”

Gymnasiums and other recreational facilities are often constructed of hard surfaces like concrete, glass and wood—precisely the building materials of the Squash Center and precisely why such spaces can be so loud. Sound from sneakers, balls striking the squash courts and even cheering spectators echo and reverberate off hard surfaces, potentially distracting athletes and diminishing the enjoyment of those watching matches or visiting the space. Luckily for all playing at or visiting the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, the architects and designers considered the acoustical performance of the space and found a solution to contend with the racket. Helping to diminish the recreational noise are Sound Quality® Catenary Banners from Sound Seal. Covering 22,600-square-feet of the facility’s ceiling, they help to reduce the original, untreated, reverberation time by 63%.

Catenary Banners are ideal in large, open spaces that require a lot of sound absorption—just like the Arlen Specter US Squash Center. The banners are designed to be installed via grommets and hung horizontally to the ceiling. They are stitched into a PVC, ripstop nylon sailcloth or fabric facing and are available in custom sizes up to 4’ x 25’. The PVC option was selected for the Squash Center for the added level of noise control it provides, with a grey hue complementing the space and blending almost seamlessly into the architectural elements of the space, particularly the ceiling and roof deck.

“We provided mock-ups to aid in the initial decision- making,” shared Kerrie Duncan, Sound Seal’s Architectural Sales Manager. “The installation and results were just as we anticipated. We are so pleased to have been part of this historic project and to have our products featured in such a central and impactful way in such an important venue.

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