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way enhance the esthetic qualities of the chamber. A glass partition is a glass partition and there is no way to make it appear otherwise. As indicated, however, we would exert every effort to minimize the adverse effect.
Effect on Acoustical Qualities of the Chamber
Discussion with the acoustical consultant who designed the
proposed speech reinforcement system reveals that the glass enclosure
reflections from the glass enclosure, but we would attempt to alleviate.
this condition to the extent feasible through the use of non-reflective
coatings or other means.
Effect on Heating and Air Conditioning
We have considered this matter and have concluded that the en
closure would not affect the heating or air conditioning of the chamber
and the gallery to any measurable extent and that such changes as are
necessary can readily be made by our own mechanics.
Items Which require further Study:
If your Commission should decide to proceed with further consideration of the enclosure of the galleries, there are several matters
within our normal functions which would require further study.
A means of avoiding interference with televised Joint
An engineering study of the Senate Chamber walls, made
SUMMARY RELATING TO ENCLOSURE OF GALLERY
It is possible, physically, to install a partition of glass, steel
and bronze, to enclose the House Galleries.
Protection of Members and others on the House Floor from
Protection of Members and others on the House Floor from
Elimination of noise emanating from the galleries due to
Improved audibility of debate from the House Floor, both
Adverse effect on the esthetic qualities of the House Chamber, although we would minimize this to the extent feasible.
Creation of a symbolic barrier between the legislators and the people.
Difficulty of Members in the extreme southeast and southwest corners of the Chamber in reading the electronic voting boards (this restriction will apply to some extent even if the enclosure is not erected).
Restriction upon television coverage of Joint Sessions, which we will attempt to resolve in a satisfactory manner if the enclosure is approved.
There might well be other advantages and disadvantages relating to
enclosing the galleries, but we believe these are the primary ones.
An alternate to any such construction, of course, would be the pro
vision of extremely strict security precautions in the use of the galleries,
especially when the House is in session.
Estimate of Cost
Based on a similar study of the Senate Chamber over a year ago,
where the problems and work involved with the enclosure would be comparable,
the overall cost of the enclosure is estimated at $405,000.
This does not
include the sound reinforcement system for which funds have already been ap
propriated and which will be described in the following section of this report.
INSTALLATION OF AN ADEQUATE SOUND REINFORCING SYSTEM IN THE HOUSE CHAMBER AND GALLERIES
With the approval of the Speaker in 1968, outside acoustical engineers
were retained to develop information, analysis, cost and other data required for
future design of an up-dated, improved sound reinforcement system for the House
Chamber, including the galleries.
The studies of the acoustical engineers were carried on in consultation
with the Architect of the Capitol and his staff, the Parliamentarian and other
Their comp 1
ed report wa
submitted to the Architect and the
Speaker in September, 1969.
The studies were conducted by Richard H. Bolt and Robert B. Newman and
their assistants, who are internationally known and respected in the field of
They also made similar studies for the Senate Chamber and designed
the sound reinforcement system which has been in use in the Senate Chamber
for the past few years, with excellent results.
Description of the Proposed System
The new system, proposed for the House Chamber, 18 intended to
replace the obsolete system now in use.
The present system represents
an evolution of the system originally installed in the House Chamber in
1930, a number of elements of which have been replaced gradually following
the failure of original components, or have been added to the systen in
ensuing years in an effort to overcome shortcomings in the performance
of the old installation.
The consultants, in their report, have concluded that:
(1) The basic acoustical characteristics of the House Chamber
are favorable for high quality sound amplification; that adequate speech reinforcement techniques can be applied to attain speech intelligibility on the floor and in the Galleries without making architectural modifications, or changes in the decor.
(2) Although the background noises generated by the Inter
mittent entry and departure of gallery audiences do substantially reduce speech intelligibility, the unavoidable noises associated with the activities on the floor during roll calls and debates indicate the need for a reinforcement system capable of producing higher than normal sound pressure levels without creating feedback. The existing system does not have this capability.
The existing system does not provide adequate coverage
The speech reception in all areas of the Chamber Ploor and in all the Galleries can be made properly audible, natural, and effective if a properly designed speech reinforcement system, utilizing the most sophisticated components presently available, is installed.
The new installation would distribute the amplified speech
through a relatively large number of small loudspeakers placed
in proximity to all listening positions.
The purpose of a dense
network of low volume loudspeakers is to provide a high uniformity
of audience coverage with intelligible speech at appropriate sound levels. Similar installations have proven successful in the United States Senate, The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada, the House of Representatives of the State of Missouri, and in other important locations.
This objective can be accomplished by placing obscured loudspeakers in the Rostrum area; within all Members' chairs, in the
Press Gallery, and throughout the seating areas of all Public
The microphone installations will duplicate in number
those presently utilized on the Rostrum, in the Wells, and at the
Democratic and Republican tables. A new console will be installed
in the location of the existing console, at which the sound system
operator is stationed.
To avoid conflicts with the activities of the House, the
physical work associated with the new Installation will have
to be accomplished after adjournments of daily sessions by