Lowering the ceiling to raise the roof
As the NBA Finals come to a close this week with Golden State potentially winning its first title since 1975, we were impressed by Steph Curry and the Warriors once again blowing the lid off the infamously noisy, but dated, Oracle Arena in Oakland on Sunday night. We are equally impressed by the architects and engineers recreating that rock-concert atmosphere in Golden State’s gleaming new arena set to break ground in San Francisco this January.
With its low-slung ceilings and sound-reverberant concrete surfaces, Oracle is known to reach 120 decibels — that’s as loud as a jet engine!
New arenas often disappoint fans yearning for the old-school flavor of their former ballparks, especially when it comes to the noise factor since sound loses steam the further it travels through air. So harnessing that energy inside a sleek modern arena that lacks concrete and is designed to be more open is a tall task that falls to the Machete Group and MANICA Architecture, whose owner, David Manica, worked on O2 Arena and the new Wembley Stadium in London as well as Beijing’s Olympic Stadium.
Two major ways architects are recreating Oracle’s fan experience from an acoustic standpoint are by limiting the new arena to 18,000 seats and by featuring only one level of suites in an effort to keep the ceiling low and the sound off the charts.
“We are working with world-renowned acousticians, and state-of-the-art acoustic simulators, to ensure that the new arena is just as loud and exciting as Oracle is,” Manica told us.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals is at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday night on ABC. For more on the Oracle and the Warriors’ new arena check out Sports Illustrated. For more on the science of sound in stadiums click here.