Graham Memorial Chapel

The Benjamin Brown Graham Memorial Chapel at Washington University in St. Louis, MO has undergone an extensive audio transformation, marking a significant milestone in its rich history. Spearheaded by project manager Jeff Allen and executed over a meticulous 18-month period, the project prioritized achieving two key goals: seamlessly integrating an audio system to enhance the overall clarity of the chapel while honoring its architectural integrity.

Graham Chapel as it’s known on campus features soaring 45-foot ceilings and stone interior walls that posed a unique acoustic challenge. The project began with 12 months of thorough audio analysis to guarantee a perfect match for the chapel’s multiple services and events throughout the year. Ultimately, K-array’s elegant architectural speaker designs and accurate sound reproduction won over key stakeholders, setting the stage for a brand new audio experience for the 785 person capacity venue. The decision was solidified after an on-site demonstration, where K-array’s solutions showcased their ability to provide full coverage sound with exceptional clarity from the front to the back of the chapel as well as the balcony. The slim, discreet speakers from K-array disappeared into the woodwork without visually disrupting the space.

Rigorous testing and adjustments during the installation phase ensured optimal performance throughout the chapel, eliminating previous issues with inconsistent volume levels and reverberation. System designer Jeff Allen emphasized the significant improvement in sound clarity, especially at lower volumes eliminating the need to “push the amps too hard” and avoiding distortion at higher volumes.

Leveraging K-array’s K-framework 3, a powerful 3D modeling software, multiple system configurations were tested during the acoustic design phase. The software, alongside additional EASE acoustic modeling data provided by David Bick of McClure Engineering, ensured optimal system performance. At its core, the system consists of ten flown Kayman-KY52 speakers in a true stereo L/R configuration. For clear coverage in the front, two Python-KP52 I speakers were added for front fill. Rounding out the setup are two compact passive Thunder-KS2P I 18” subwoofers powered by dual 8 channel Kommander-KA208 amplifiers.

TSI Global in St. Louis secured the project and brought in engineers Lee Buckalew and Garrison Brown who took charge of rigging, installation, and final commissioning. The project culminated on January 12, just in time for the 37th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration held at full capacity. The event served as a perfect showcase for the new system’s clarity and intelligibility, receiving high praise from attendees.

“The K-array system’s unique design and advanced features proved to be the perfect fit for the Graham Chapel. The powerful modeling software allowed us to optimize the system for the space, and the final results speak for themselves. Clear, even sound at all volumes creating a truly immersive experience for the audience.” – Jeff Allen, System Designer and Media Technology Manager, Washington University

The recent K-array sound system installation at Graham Memorial Chapel is a notable achievement. This new audio technology allows the historic chapel to offer visitors an improved listening experience while respecting and preserving the building’s architectural elements. By implementing innovative sound solutions, the chapel can provide a richer and more immersive audio environment without compromising its historic integrity.