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Dunbar Highschool

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This auditorium is part of a high school which played a prominent role in America’s African-American education. Part of the new construction is a new 10,000 square-foot auditorium. The expansive room utilizes wood panel grille ceilings and walls throughout the auditorium space to create a dramatic effect.

The 600-seat auditorium features 34-foot high ceilings with steep sloped floors. A balcony section also hangs over a portion of the auditorium space. Such a large area needed some form of acoustic disruption so that sound emanating from the stage area would not bounce back. To address this, the ceiling and walls were covered with wood panel grilles.

The panel grilles are attached to structural features referred to as “ribbons." These ribbons consist of rows of wood panel grilles that run up the walls into angled corners and continue overhead across the ceiling, returning down the other wall. This turned out to be a very complex install because the panels were directly attached to a substrate wall consisting of a layer of metal framing, plywood and drywall. The ends of the panels were mitered to create a seamless angled corner. Return edges for the panels were created at our facility.


The grand scale of this auditorium and the contemporary design is breathtaking. The installation was professional and the wood panel grille ceiling and walls are beautiful. This historic school will be able to continue to provide quality education in a remarkable environment.


With such a complex job, the installers wanted to become familiar with the ceiling product to anticipate any potential issues.

They had the ceiling manufacturer create a mock ceiling and wall section in their facility. After working out details at their shop, they were able to complete the job very efficiently. There still was a great deal of field cutting involved by the installers. All the technical challenges were compounded by the very high ceiling. The installers had to work between 30 and 40 feet up on a steeply angled floor.