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Sounding the Future: Influential Architects of Today

Sounding the Future: Influential Architects of Today

As our previous explorations of the most innovative architects of modern history have shown, today’s designers truly do stand on the shoulders of giants, to paraphrase from the great Isaac Newton. Yet the work being done right now is among the most exciting, the most creative, and the most technologically advanced of anything yet seen–or heard.

Indeed, today’s most influential architects are designing in magnificent ways that integrate the natural and the human-made world, marry interior and exterior spaces, and accommodate and nurture the whole human, with all their complex and interdependent senses. Figures such as Jeanne Gang and Zaha Hadid have transformed our understanding of what is possible in architecture, turning the modern landscape into a work of art.  

We are increasingly recognizing that a person’s experience of a space is about the intermingling of sense perception–of sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell–that makes engagement with the built world so memorable and the world of contemporary architecture so thrilling.

In this article, we examine some of the most influential architects of today and look at how they’re transforming the ways we live, work, and have our being in our modern world. We’ll examine the particularly important role that acoustic design plays in the metamorphosis of our modern world.

Ioulietta Zindrou–Technopolis Auditorium

Technopolis City of Athens Amphitheater

If the future of modern architecture had a face, it may well be that of the rising superstar, Ioulietta Zindrou. At 43, Zindrou is responsible for some of the most acclaimed and acoustically perfect constructions of the contemporary era. 

Among the most notable of these is the award-winning Technopolis Auditorium in

Athens, Greece. Completed in 2020, the multipurpose cultural center was designed to function as a massive “acoustic device” through the masterful orchestration of diverse architectural elements and acoustic integrations, such as the strategic placement of acoustic tiles and panels and the installation of sound-absorptive carpeting and upholstery.

Yet it’s not only through the use of noise mitigating materials that the auditorium achieves its unparalleled acoustics. The shape and configuration of the complex is itself a masterclass in acoustic architecture. The loft of the ceilings would typically present a significant acoustic challenge in the form of sound wave reverberations and echoes, but Zindrou has deftly counteracted such problematic soundwave diffusion through her use of prismatic ceiling surfaces. 

The geometric patterns and natural oak materials at once absorb soundwaves, break them up, and redistribute the remaining sound energy back to the surface, redistributing them into discrete zones of sound. The result is a soundscape in which desired acoustic elements - human voices, the sounds of musical instruments, etc. - are amplified and clarified. At the same time, unwanted sounds - ambient noises generated both by humans and machines, from the tromp of footsteps to the whir of HVAC systems - are absorbed, muffled, or contained.

Ken Yeang – National Library, Singapore

National Library Board Singapore

National Library Board Singapore

Malaysian-born architect Ken Yeang is widely celebrated as a pioneer in the design of “green skyscrapers.” His towering masterworks can be found in some of the largest, most densely populated, and noisiest cities around the world. 

From the Menara Mesiniaga Tower, home to IBM’s headquarters in Malaysia, to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Building in London, Yeang’s biophilic designs are groundbreaking in their strategic use of sky courts, interior greenspaces, and inverted cores to provide a sound-buffering and heat-transferring perimeter that protects the inner shell of the space, supporting ideal ambient temperatures, humidity levels, and soundscapes virtually immune to the conditions outside and requiring significantly less energy consumption than traditional high-rise buildings.

Perhaps nowhere is Yeang’s talent for environmentally-informed acoustic design more evident than in his construction of Singapore’s National Library. Completed in 2005, the eco-friendly design is also, by necessity, one of the most acoustically perfect public buildings in the world. It’s a mixed-used space housing not only a vast collection of print artifacts but also theater spaces and multipurpose rooms. 

The 16-storey building bifurcates at its top floors, which are linked by bridges. This division of the top stories provides natural ventilation to make cooling and dehumidifying the interiors easier and more energy-efficient despite the hard atmospheric conditions of Singapore’s tropic climate. The atrium also provides distinct acoustic benefits, offering a buffer through which sound spillover can be absorbed or diffused.

Perhaps most significant of all are the 14 landscaped gardens that populate the Library’s exterior and interior spaces, including public gardens located on levels 5 and 10, which are open daily. The infusion of lush, tropical plants, pebbled walking paths, and red brick exterior walls, known for their porosity and, therefore, their capacity to absorb and muffle sound, makes the Library an oasis of quiet calm in the midst of one of Asia’s most bustling cities.

Bjarke Ingels–VIΛ 57 West

Bjarke Ingels VIA 57 West

From his groundbreaking work in eco-friendly industrial design to his incomparable residential buildings, Bjarke Ingels has literally and figuratively built quite an impressive resume for a man who’s only just reaching his prime. Beyond the aesthetic innovation of Ingels’ work is a profound commitment to use architecture to combat the climate crisis and revolutionize how we live in and with the environment around us.

For Ingels, this includes the creation of spaces that are at once environmentally friendly and optimally functional. This is particularly evident in one of Ingels’ most ambitious and monumental achievements, the 830,000 square foot VIΛ 57 West. Situated in the heart of New York City, the mixed-use complex is primarily a high-rise residential building built on a paraboloid or warped pyramid plan. The building’s shape optimizes its acoustics, with the slender spire at the eastern edge smoothly tapering across the western edge, creating a gentle plane for the redirection and diffusion of soundwaves.

In addition to the design, the 22,000 square foot European-inspired garden that rests at the center of the space offers not only a respite from the tumult of the metropolis outside but also a natural sound barrier. The trees, grasses, and water features both absorb and diffuse sound waves, creating a hush in the central courtyards.

Inside the apartments and the communal areas, slanted ceilings minimize reverations and echoes, while the predominance of oak wood floors and fixtures, which are naturally sound absorbent, enhance the sound environment inside each space. At the same time, these features create discrete zones of sound that maximize the utility, functionality, and experience of this multi-purpose building.


Yasuhisa Toyota and Frank Gehry–Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by architect Frank Gehry

Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by architect Frank Gehry

Often described as the “architect of the invisible,” Yasuhisa Toyota is celebrated as one of the world’s preeminent concert hall designers. Toyota’s portfolio of achievements is breathtakingly vast and varied, making it difficult to single out one particular design.

If, however, one were forced to select only one aesthetically and acoustically exceptional design from Toyota’s corpus, it may well be the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall that stands out. Envisioned by the famed architect, Frank Gehry, to serve as the “living room for the city” of Los Angeles, California, the Hall features a flowing footprint that conjures the image of a stream of musical notes, the unspooling of a symphonic score. 

While Gehry supervised the design and build out of the space from the outside in, Toyota deployed his incomparable expertise as an acoustician to create a soundscape to rival, if not surpass, the complex’s stunning visuals. Home to the renowned LA Philharmonic, the Walt Disney Concert Hall boasts a wide array of features to make it one of the most acoustically innovative performance venues in the world, including the iconic pipe organ, consisting of more than 6,100 pipes affectionately known as “French fries.”

In addition to its mammoth pipe organ, the Hall also features acoustic elements that are less conspicuous, perhaps, but no less effective in creating the state-of-the-art soundscape for which it is celebrated. This includes the curvilinear design that makes the complex look less like a static building and more like a ship at sea, with its billowing, shimmering sails propelling the vessel forward at full speed. 

Such a fluid, flowing design aesthetic not only lends to the striking visual appeal of the space but also to the acoustics, enabling sound waves to be diffused and redirected across those all-important zones of sound. This configuration of the exterior walls and interior spaces combines with the strategic selection of materials. Inside the auditorium are more than 133,000 square feet of acoustic paneling made from Douglas fir, resulting in a massive performance space that needs no audio amplification. The space is so impeccably engineered for acoustics that you can hear the performers with crystalline clarity, no matter where you’re sitting in the theater!

Jorn Utzon–The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

Of all the great concert halls in the world, few are as instantly recognizable or as beloved as Australia’s majestic Sydney Opera House. Designed by the acclaimed Danish architect, Jorn Utzon, the Sydney Opera House is the crowning achievement of a long and illustrious career. Completed in 1973, the Opera House was recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, making Utzon only the second architect to receive such recognition during his lifetime.

From both a visual and acoustic perspective, it’s not difficult to understand why. The iconic parabolic exteriors invoke images of the island nation’s maritime past, even as it speaks to the dynamism of a modern Australia sailing boldly and bravely into the future. 

The Sydney Opera House

The multipurpose performance venue accommodates nearly 2,600 guests and is host to a variety of events, from operas to ballets to symphonies to dramatic performances. Though the sheer size of the venue, combined with the multiplicity of performance types, would seem to pose a nearly insurmountable acoustic challenge, Utzon prevailed through a host of strategic choices and sound innovations. The interior walls and ceilings are composed largely of birch wood, valued for their superb acoustic properties. The angle and configuration of the birch ceiling and wall panels redirect sound while muffling ambient noise, amplifying and clarifying the sounds of human speech and musical instrumentation. The result is a feast for the ears as well as the eyes, no matter where you may be sitting in the vast concert hall.

FSorb and the Sounds of Tomorrow

The state of acoustic design has perhaps never been stronger or more exciting than it is today, and FSorb is proud to lead the industry with its pioneering products and ongoing story of innovation. From clouds to panels to baffles, available in a broad array of patterns, styles, and colors, in addition to innovative acoustic installation systems, FSorb has everything you need to create the ideal soundscape for your next commercial or residential design project. 

Contact your local FSorb representative today to learn how FSorb can help you bring your most ambitious acoustic design projects to fruition.    



At FSorb, we are motivated by improving human health and do so by creating eco-friendly acoustic products. Our mission is to help designers build beautiful spaces that reduce excess ambient noise while calming the human nervous system. With over 25 years in the acoustic business we stand behind FSorb as a durable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost product. If you want an acoustic solution that is safe to human health at an affordable price, then we are your resource.

(844) 313-7672


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