Located in the heart of Mobile, Alabama, St. Ignatius Catholic Church has been a cornerstone of the community since its founding in 1947. In 2016, the church undertook a new parish master plan that called for the existing church to be repurposed as a parish hall and a new church to be constructed next door. Designed by Quina Grundhoefer Architects in neo-Gothic style with a brick façade, buttresses, limestone trim and a slate roof, the new church features historic stained glass windows repurposed from an old parish church in downtown Mobile. Five years in the making, the new church opened its doors to great delight in April 2021. Knowing the traditional sanctuary layout would be prone to acoustic challenges, church leadership commissioned steerable arrays from Renkus-Heinz to ensure crystal-clear intelligibility for the spoken and musical liturgy.
Quina Grundhoefer Architects consulted with Chuck Walthall, a well-known acoustic consultant specializing in religious buildings and owner of Walthall & Associates, to design an audio system capable of directing intelligible, high-quality audio to the congregation. Modern Sound was hired to install and commission the system, while independent manufacturer’s representative Richard Hembree of Griffith Sales Associates leaned on his 25+ years of working with Renkus-Heinz products to assist with the project as needed.
“The design of the sanctuary for St. Ignatius Church was pretty traditional and also came with the reverberant acoustics we’ve encountered in a lot of church construction,” said Walthall. “In many of those situations, we immediately turn to steerable arrays from Renkus-Heinz to help mitigate the problems.”
To improve speech intelligibility and provide even coverage for the entire seating area, a pair of ICONYX IC24-RN steerable arrays were installed in the nave while a pair of smaller IC8-RNs were deployed in the balcony for choir reinforcement. Beam steering technology allows ICONYX loudspeakers to tightly control the sound and place it just where it’s needed — on the congregation — while keeping sound away from other surfaces that may cause echoes and reverberation. Intelligibility is key, and the ICONYX system ensures that every listener receives the best sound possible. The result is a comfortable worship space with a nice balance for both live music and spoken word. Best of all, church leadership was very happy with all aspects of the new church.
“I had the opportunity to visit the sanctuary after its completion and was amazed at the fantastic balance of the room’s aesthetics and acoustics,” said Hembree. “Kudos to Chuck and his team on the design work. Also, it is always a treat to work with the folks from Modern Sound. All around a great job done!”
“It’s truly a watershed moment to dedicate this church to the greater glory and honor of God,” said Fr. Bry Shields. “We are very excited and look forward to seeing what our new church does for our parish.”