Positive Sound Design in Urban Soundscapes – Chicago Tribune

This week, Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic, Blair Kamin and I had a good chat about the positive role of sound in the design and experience of urban spaces. While noise problems at O’Hare Airport and Wrigley Field gain attention, we focused ways that sound reduces stress and enhance. Instead of the negative role, I mentioned specific examples of places in Chicago where I, and other MSAE members, have led soundwalks within Millennium Park.

Blair Kamin wrote, “Sound can alleviate, as well as accentuate, stress. It can delight us as well as drive us crazy. Sound should be a part of the recipe for cooking up great cities. Yet concocting that recipe is as much art as science.”

Read Kamin’s article “Soundscape of the city is about more than decibels.”

Lurie Garden in Millennium Park
The Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park has hedges that block street noise and allow for sounds of nature to be heard inside it. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)

JASA Call for Papers for a “Special Issue on Soundscape and its Applications”

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) is seeking papers for a “Special Issue on Soundscape and its Applications.”

Deadline: January 15, 2012

[Quoted from the call]

The general topic of soundscape is recognized as one that has consistently generated new and innovative ways of thinking about noise control and if [sic] the interaction between sound and people. It has a significant practical relevance, in terms of policies, as well as in the planning and design of new living areas or in reshaping existing areas.

Topics of interest include whatever is involved in the developments of soundscapes:

  • Economics
  • Noise-policy standards
  • Combined effects
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Perceptual and physical parameters (such as the characteristics of sounds and survey site selection)
  • Multi-sectoral environmental health impact assessment
  • Development of environmental zoning
  • Citizen involvement
  • Preservation of quiet areas

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“What If Sound Matters Too?” with Scott Bernstein, Center for Neighborhood Technology

7 PM, Wednesday September 21

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Columbia College, Basement, 33 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago IL 60605

CNT Logo
The Midwest Society Acoustic Ecology and Department of Audio Arts & Acoustics at Columbia College present Scott Bernstein, President of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. His presentation, titled What If Sound Matters Too?: Revisiting the Potential for Healthy Soundscape will be on Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. Admission free.

Scott Bernstein is co-founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a 33 year-old Chicago-based national innovations center that promotes healthy and productive communities. CNT’s work applies geographic information to the redesign of urban and economic systems to help reveal, focus and better utilize local resources. CNT was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative & Effective Institutions in 2009.
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A Soundwalk Idea for Chicago’s Bauhaus District by the Michael Reese Hospital Campus

Many recent developments have occurred regarding the fate of Michael Reese Hospital located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. The group leading the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, Chicago2016 is planning to demolish the hospital, but the Gropius in Chicago Coalition, Preservation Chicago, Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond, and other organizations have been campaigning to preserve those buildings. Many of the buildings at MRH were designed by architects with Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and the The Architects Collaborative. The landscape architecture designed by Hideo Sasaki and Lester Collins that mitigated traffic noise around MRH’s psychiatric institute.

Two public hearings addressed the plans to demolish MRH. The first was on Monday, July 20th, at Daley College. The following night a public hearing was held in Bronzeville. To find out more, please visit www.gropiuschicago.org.

Buildings on the Michael Reese Hospital Campus
Buildings and landscape of Michael Reese Hospital Campus

It would be interesting to see if a soundwalk could happen by Michael Reese Hospital. Earlier this week, demolition bids were issued to several local companies. Abatement (removal of asbestos, etc.) has already begun. I’m not sure if it would be appropriate to have a soundwalk happen in the direct vicinity of MRH, later this summer… Apartment complexes and other properties border the hospital campus. If a soundwalk happens during the abatement process, the soundwalk participants would be hearing what the residents of that neighborhood would be hearing. A soundwalk could possibly happen there at the end of August / beginning of September.

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