Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Milton Court

Main Contractor
Sir Robert McAlpine
Acoustic Consultant
Structural Steelwork Contractor
William Hare
Key Facts
608 seat world class concert hall
227 seat theatre as well as further theatres, rehearsal rooms and a TV studio suite
Constructed between July 2010 and February 2013
Farrat supplied over 1310 elastomeric bearings and pads as well as acoustic washers, bushes and thermal break connection plates
Overall contract value of approximately £225,000

The Challenge

The key challenge on this project was designing a world class concert hall in a tight space in the centre of the city of London which could deal with disturbing vibrations coming from the nearby underground network. One of the unique issues on this project was that a broad range of load cases would be required, each needing a bespoke design to achieve a uniform deflection and natural frequency characteristics for the entire system.

The number of interfaces between concrete and steel as well as the range of isolated levels meant that coordination between project trades would be important. The main areas requiring isolation were the concert hall, a studio theatre located directly under the concert hall, multi-level rehearsal spaces and numerous steel frame acoustic connections within the structure, as well as a fly tower main school staircase and plant equipment on the top levels 35 and 36 of the tower. Aside from the isolation challenges Farrat thermal break connections were also required on the project.

The Solution

Farrat provided an expert support service to all disciplines involved which included calculations and drawings in a number of key areas on this complex project. For the main concert hall and studio theatre the exact loading on each bearing had to
be calculated based on their exact location. This was followed by the design and manufacture of bearings to suit, specifically low frequency laminated natural rubber bearing assemblies which would support the internal steel box structure and precast floating floors. The rehearsal studios and gyms at basement level were addressed in the form of box in box designs containing a built up jack up floor system comprising an acoustic void, concrete slab and acoustic internal walls.

At roof level 50mm thick Isomat natural rubber bearings were placed on raised plinths designed to match (and maintain equal load distribution on) precast planks which formed the inertia bases for a variety of plant equipment. Farrat also designed and manufactured specialist acoustic pads, washers and bushes to suit a wide range of pressures as well as thermal break connections. A high quality, high resilience natural rubber was used for all the isolation bearings specified. The material is an excellent choice for building isolation as its low damping characteristics enable a high degree of noise and vibration reduction while it is also highly durable. This approach also simplified quality control requirements by only having to approve and monitor one compound.

Farrat worked closely with the other project team partners including structural engineers, acoustic consultants and the main contractor in order to provide itemised schedules of all bearings that would be needed. This helped to establish a carefully defined delivery schedule to fit in with the construction sequence and to ensure that the bearings were not overloaded during construction.

Robert Wall
Director, SIr Robert McAlpine
Due to the profile and scale of this job we were glad of a partner who could provide high levels of technical and acoustic expertise as well as product supply.

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