Project: David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Location: New York

Composite Components: GFRP ceiling panels

Improving the acoustics of the Wu Tsai Theater was a primary goal in the renovation of Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall. Kreysler & Associates created the textured GFRP ceiling panels that helped achieve the desired sound.

Composites have become a favored material in performance spaces because they are configurable to acousticians’ detailed specifications. “Acousticians don’t like smooth, flat surfaces, because the sound bounces off of them in ways that can create echoes,” says Bill Kreysler, the company’s founder and CEO. “For most of the acoustical panels that we’ve done, the design calls for a pattern – a texture on the surface. The texture can be very organic, or it can be a very specific geometric pattern that creates a kind of three-dimensional relief surface, in addition to the panel itself being curved.”

For Wu Tsai Theater, architect Diamond Schmitt and acoustician Akustiks wanted the ceiling to resemble the space’s new perforated metal wall panels. Akustiks also specified that the panels had to weigh precisely five pounds per square foot.

“We were very involved in the surface pattern geometry to help the architect achieve what they wanted within the schedule,” Kreysler says. “Some molds took several hundred hours of CNC milling, so the mold milling time determined the schedule of the product.” The company added a proprietary concrete to the backs of the panels before removing them from the mold to achieve the desired weight.

Kreysler produced 40 GFRP panels using an open molded hand lay-up method. The panels varied in size from 4.5 x 8 feet to 20 x 10 feet. The total surface area is 4,200 square feet.

The panels were bolted to a frame that can be rotated to fine tune sound for different performances. That required careful engineering of the connections, which were embedded during molding.

“Since the panels need to rotate 90 degrees from time to time – and to be lowered and raised – and since there are several penetrations where light and rigging comes through, the engineering of the panel was fairly complex,” says Kreysler.

Geffen Hall’s official opening was scheduled for late October 2022. Preliminary tests of the theater’s acoustics won positive reviews from musicians and audience members.

Project: The Heritage luxury apartment

Location: São Paolo

Composite Components: GFRP exterior ornamentation

Pininfarina, an Italian firm known for car design, has branched out into architectural design. One recent project, the Heritage luxury apartment building in São Paolo, features dynamic, curved GFRP accents on the building’s 32 floors.