Riverbank Laboratories

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Riverbank Laboratories
Alternate name Riverbank Labs, Riverbank Acoustical Laboratory
Location 1512 S. Batavia Ave. Geneva, IL 60134-33022
Region Northeast Illinois
Part of Riverbank Estate
History
Builder Wallace Sabine, George Fabyan
Founded 1918
Site notes
Website http://riverbank.alionscience.com
Riverbank Laboratories
Location 1512 Batavia Ave., Geneva, Illinois
Area 3.5 acres (1.4 ha)
Built 1912
Architect Wilson Brothers
Architectural style Bungalow/Craftsman
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 03001204[1]
Added to NRHP November 28, 2003

Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories (RAL), (often referred to as Riverbank or Riverbank Labs), is a NVLAP accredited acoustical testing agency founded by Wallace Clement Sabine in 1918.

The testing service remains a highly respected source of independent acoustical materials testing. RAL specializes in STC (Sound Transmission Loss per ASTM E90), NRC (Sound Absorption per ASTM C423), IIC (Impact Sound Transmission per ASTM E492), and Sound Power (ISO 6926) testing. The current address for the company is 1512 Batavia Ave. Geneva, IL 60134-33022. This location also houses the Riverbank Acoustical Museum and Acoustical Library.[2]

History[edit]

The acoustical laboratory building was funded and built by Colonel George Fabyan on his vast Riverbank Estate in Geneva, IL. Colonel Fabyan was a patron of obscure sciences and had hired Wallace Clement Sabine to help tune an acoustical levitation machine built according to specifications decoded from a Sir Francis Bacon work. Dr Sabine ultimately convinced the colonel that the machine would never work and the two became close friends. After hearing Wallace's complaints of the poor conditions of his acoustical test lab at Harvard, Colonel Fabyan agreed to build a state of the art reverberation chamber and test facility for Wallace to use on his property. The size, shape, construction materials, and isolation specifications were carefully engineered by Dr Sabine. The large reverberation chamber (Room 0) remains one of the best sound absorption labs in the world.

Wallace Clement Sabine passed away in 1919, shortly after the lab was constructed. The task of managing the Laboratory Operations was granted to his cousin, Paul Sabine, who refined the test methods and developed the lab into a successful business. After Paul retired, the lab operations were handed to Hale Sabine and the Armour Research Foundation of the Illinois Institute of Technology. The Armour Research Foundation (ARF) was renamed IITRI in 1963. IITRI funded a large expansion to the laboratory in the 1960s, which included a new Transmission Loss facility. In 2002, the technology and engineering divisions of IITRI (Including Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories) were spun off into a new company named Alion Science and Technology. Today, Alion conducts advanced acoustical testing operations in the facility for many prominent acoustical material manufacturers and government agencies.

In the facility's early days, It also housed a cryptology team that worked to decipher codes from the works of Sir Francis Bacon, Shakespeare, and enemy military communications.[3] George Fabyan allowed the U.S. Government to use Riverbank Laboratories to their disposal during World War I[4] and the estate played an instrumental role in history for deciphering the German and Mexican code. The National Security Agency (NSA) recognized the "voluntary and confidential service rendered by Colonel Fabyan and his Riverbank Laboratories in the sensitive areas of cryptanalysis and cryptologic training during a critical time of national need on the eve of America's entry into World War I." The building is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

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