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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Renowned Architectural Acoustician Leo Beranek Presents His Professional Library to Rensselaer

March 29, 2010

Renowned Architectural Acoustician Leo Beranek Presents His Professional Library to Rensselaer

Renowned architectural acoustician Leo Beranek is presenting Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with his historic collection of acoustics books. His gift acknowledges the top status of Rensselaer’s graduate program in architectural acoustics and offers students access to the rare books he has accumulated in a lifetime of work within the field. 

Beranek will visit Rensselaer on April 1 to present his gift and also to tour the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, and lecture on contributions to acoustics and the history of music and concert halls.

Beranek, past president of Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), was involved in producing the ARPANET communications system — the forerunner of today’s Internet — and, in addition to widespread professional recognition, was in 2003 awarded the President’s National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed on scientists in this country. Specializing in the acoustics of concert halls and opera houses, Beranek has been involved in the design of performance venues around the world including Philharmonic Hall in New York City, the New National Theater Opera House in Tokyo, the Benjamin Franklin Hall in Berlin, and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.

Ning Xiang, director of the graduate program in architectural acoustics at Rensselaer, said Beranek’s choice of Rensselaer as custodian of his personal library points to the importance of Rensselaer in the field of architectural acoustics. 

“The significance of this is that Dr. Beranek recognizes that the graduate program in architectural acoustics at Rensselaer is the best program in the nation,” Xiang said. “At the same time, it points to his expectation that the Rensselaer Graduate Program will educate the next generation of top architectural acousticians.”

Beranek will present the collection of books to Rensselaer on April 1 at 3 p.m. in the Fishbach Room of Folsom Library. He will also sign copies of his books Concert Halls and Opera Houses and Riding the Waves. Berenak will also speak on “Some Important Contributions to Acoustics” on April 1 at 10 a.m. at the Biotech Auditorium, and on “History of Music in Concert Halls” on April 2 at 11 a.m. in the Biotech Auditorium.

The book collection — 21 feet long — includes valuable rare editions from Beranek’s early years as an acoustic engineer and architectural acoustician more than 60 years ago, Xiang said.

“He started his career in 1937 at Harvard University. Many of his books are from the 1940s and 1950s. Those books are not available anymore, but they have a huge value to our students and faculty,” Xiang said.

Mary Martialay
(518) 276-2146