The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Pioneer of acoustic research remembered

Published: 
23 April 2012

A plaque has been unveiled at the Turner Sims Concert Hall on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus to remember the man who advised on the acoustics of the venue. The hall is famous for the excellence of its sound; musicians often remark on its quality.

When plans were first discussed for the venue in 1968, Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) was only five years old. The University decided to ask Philip Doak, a founding member of the ISVR, to work with the architects. He assembled a team of researchers who determined the acoustical requirements, which were incorporated in the hall’s design.

Philip Doak was also founding editor of the Journal of Sound and Vibration and went on to become Professor of Aeroacoustics at Southampton . When he died in 2011, at the age of 90, his colleagues decided his achievements ought to be recognised and his memory honoured at the hall which he had transformed into a superb concert venue.

“We were holding a show combining keyboard music and science at the Turner Sims during Science and Engineering Week 2012, so that seemed the ideal occasion to unveil a plaque, says Dr Matthew Wright, ISVR Senior Lecturer in Acoustics. “One of Phil’s students from the 1960s, Dr Mike Barron, who is now a distinguished authority on auditorium acoustics, came to perform the ceremony and address the audience about his memories of Phil.”

Philip took undergraduate degrees in both Physics and Music, studying piano at the Juilliard School in New York, and began a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before his funding was withdrawn by a committee influenced by US Senator Joseph McCarthy because of some left-wing activities he had undertaken while a music student. Philip held University posts at Manchester and Liverpool before helping to found the ISVR at Southampton.

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