The Importance of Acoustical Shell Ceilings

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Wenger - Your Performance PartnersRon Freiheit, Director of Product Development & Acoustics

For 70 years Wenger Corporation has provided high-quality products and services to the performing arts industry. We pride ourselves in delivering superior and safe products that improve the acoustics, aesthetics and overall theatre experience for the performers, staff and audience. This message is to inform you about our acoustical shell ceilings related to code compliance.

On rare occasions questions arise related to the location of acoustical shell ceilings and the overhead sprinkler systems in performing arts spaces. Recently a concern of this nature was expressed by a high school. In this case the decision was made to have the acoustical shell ceiling uninstalled from the high school’s performing arts center.

According to the International Building Code (IBC), Chapter 4, Section 410.7, Exception 3, an acoustical shell enclosure is “temporary in nature and is intended to improve the acoustics of the stage performances. Those temporary enclosures do not lend themselves to temporary sprinkler heads; therefore, none are required.” 1 Since acoustical shells are temporary by application the IBC exemption is allowed.

Experts in acoustics, which includes most acousticians in the industry, will agree that the acoustic shell ceiling is an integral part of each shell design. If a shell ceiling is removed, the performers on stage will have a difficult time hearing each other and the space will not function as originally designed. The acoustical shell ceiling is required to prevent sound from being absorbed in the overhead loft area on stage.

We will continue to engage architects, general contractors and others involved with any full stage installation to ensure we are compliant with national and local codes. Wenger has installed hundreds of acoustical shells worldwide and our team will continue to provide you with impeccable service and the most innovative products available in the market. If you have any questions please reach out to a Wenger representative at 1-800-493-6437.


1 2015 International Code Council. (2014). Retrieved March 30, 2016, from


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