Performing Arts Auditorium and Music Rooms

South Salem High School Performing Arts

South Salem High School

Auditorium and K-12

Salem, Oregon


152,000 sq ft

ABD Engineering & Design worked with Anderson Shirley Architects and Salem-Keizer Public Schools to provide acoustical consulting and audiovisual design for the performing arts auditorium and music rooms renovation.

The existing auditorium had several sound problems. Sound from the stage didn’t project well, and student performers couldn’t hear themselves. AV technology was almost completely lacking, and the school relied on portable equipment for events. The band and chorus spaces both had tiered floors, limiting flexibility, and the band room was particularly difficult to manage during marching band or jazz band rehearsals. The adjoining music spaces made simultaneous rehearsals challenging.

South Salem High School faculty provided valuable feedback with regard to the existing acoustical conditions but had little AV experience and relied on ABD and the theatrical consultant, PLA Designs, to guide the discussion. K-12 schools need to be functional for a long lifecycle. A 3-5-year lifecycle expectation in the private sector typically stretches out to 10-20 years in a typical school program. With this longer system life, the acoustics in the spaces must be right, while the AV infrastructure needs to be flexible enough for future expansion and updated equipment without going back to the drawing board.

The design team worked together to build acoustically balanced environments in the auditorium, band, and chorus spaces with a program for robust technical theater systems that are easy to deploy and use.

ABD designed the infrastructure around flexible CAT6 F/UTP cabling and ruggedized RJ-45 connections to operate with the networked AV signal transport platforms that are now proliferate and will inevitably evolve into more advanced platforms. Those future technologies will still rely upon this basic infrastructure. Three separate Ethernet networks support the:

  • AV-over-IP platform
  • Dante audio network
  • Control and monitoring

These route the video, program audio, and live performance audio around the facility, and provide the control and monitoring of these systems though unified control by touch panel. We anticipate this infrastructure will support multiple generations of AV technologies, allowing upgrades to the systems under future capital budgets, and in many cases by staff themselves, without the need for costly upgrades.

The new 900 seat Rose Auditorium incorporates stage and house reflectors to help direct the sound to the audience, and to the performers on the stage. Students can use the entire stage from back to thrust for theater, choral, and band performances. Likewise, the audience experiences the sound evenly throughout the seating areas. Band and chorus room flat floors can utilize risers for tiered seating if needed or take advantage of more flexible arrangements and more space. Diffusers in the chorus room provide natural reinforcement for the vocalists, while the band room incorporates a mix of diffusion and absorption to gain control of the sound for larger ensembles. In addition, the shared office between the two music rooms is better isolated through appropriate wall assemblies and doors so rehearsals can happen at the same time without interference from each other.

South Salem High School‘s new performing arts building now supports three music spaces for band, orchestra, and chorus, plus added practice rooms, while adding a black-box theater to supplement performances in the auditorium. The renovation and addition project included updated commons, added classroom, special education, and lab spaces, with CTE space for South Salem’s Sports Medicine, and Culinary Arts programs, and an auxiliary gymnasium.


Posted on

May 20, 2022