Joseph Myers of Kirkegaard Associates, Chicago, Ill., and Ayres Morison of HarleyEllis, Southfield, Mich., worked together to design the Howard Performing Arts Center for the optimal acoustical outcome. The concert hall is shaped like a shoebox with no two walls being perfectly parallel. This allows the sound to refract off the opposite wall and then push back into the audience, instead of bouncing between walls.
The concert hall is virtually soundproof. The outer pre-cast layer of concrete, the inner masonry, and a gap in between the two filled with grout create a three-foot-two-inch-thick wall and the ceiling is eight inches deep. Acoustical panels on the side walls and the ceiling, as well as a movable curtain system, assure each performer that the building is "tuned" correctly for their instrument.
One of the unique features of the building is its placement and orientation on campus. Dubbed the "hello" building by former University president, Dr. Niels-Erik Andreasen, the Howard Performing Arts Center does not follow the regular north-south orientation of all other campus buildings. Its diagonal placement affords a panoramic view of the campus from the glass-faced lobby, including Pioneer Memorial Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Chan Shun Hall and the Science Complex.