Oral History Transcript — Dr. Warren Blazier
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Interview with Dr. Warren Blazier
Warren Blazier; June 24, 2007
ABSTRACT: In this interview Warren Blazier discusses topics such as: his childhood and family background; undergraduate work at the University of Kansas and graduate work at the University of Wichita; Foundation for Industrial Research; working at Boeing Aerospace Company; acoutical vibration standards in buildings; Acoustical Society of America; Preston Schmitz; Ted Schultz; working at Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN); Bill Galloway; Red Wetherall; Jack Purcell; George Wilson; Ken Oliphant; Lou Goodfriend; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Inc (ASHRAE); Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE); Charles Ebbing; Peter Baade; Brian Gunther.
Peppin:Okay, letís see. If we were talking now, everything would be okay. Yeah. Okay, this is Rich Peppin and Warren Blazier. Itís the 24th of June, 2007 and weíre in the Renaissance Hotel. Itís about a quarter to eleven. And, weíre going to have this interview on the oral history for Warren. Okay. So, letís go with the basic stuff. When were you born?
Blazier:April 19, 1923.
Peppin:Okay. Where were you born?
Blazier:In a little town in western Kansas called Sharon Springs.
Blazier:Seven hundred and ninety-two people. [Laughter]
Peppin:Wow. Let me make sure I got this. Hold on just — [recording paused] Now.
Blazier:Do I need to speak a little louder?
Peppin:No. No. Youíre fine.
Peppin:Youíre fine. Now so, your parents were, both parents were alive at that time?
Peppin:And what did your folks do?
Blazier:You mean in Sharon Springs?
Peppin:Yeah. [Laugh] Did your father work or mother work or anything?
Blazier:Yeah. They, they, my grandfather, my motherís father, was a prominent rancher in that area, and also deeply into politics. He controlled every political job in Sharon Springs, Kansas. When my mother and father were married they lived in New York. He worked for Western Electric and picked-up yellow jaundice at the time and as a result they came back to Kansas, because they couldnít handle New York, and my grandfather put him into various political jobs in Sharon Springs. [Laugh] That lasted until I was about four years old. And, by that time my father was into Chamber of Commerce type of promotional work.
Peppin:In Sharon Springs?
Blazier:In Sharon Springs. Well he, we went to Hays, Kansas from there, where he was the commissioner of Health Safety, Environment, everything that they do in terms of Chamber activities. And from there we went to Wichita, Kansas where I essentially grew up.
Peppin:How old were you when you went to Wichita?
Blazier:I was probably nine years old. Were your father and mother educated?
Blazier:Yeah. Both were graduates of the University of Kansas. My father in Engineering and my mother in Fine Arts. She was a pianist. Do you have any siblings?
Blazier:I have two, a brother and a sister. They were twins. The brother is still alive. The sister was killed in an automobile accident about twenty years ago. Younger than you?
Blazier:Yeah. Theyíre eight years younger.
Peppin:Okay. So, when you started, so you were about nine when you went to...
Peppin:Wichita? And then, and you were still in grammar school at that time?
Peppin:And then you went to high school in Wichita?
Peppin:Anything special occur in, in high school that you — how did you decide to go into college or anything at that point?
Blazier:Oh well, I had really the, I had aspirations of becoming a concert pianist. I was, I had a part-time job my junior year in high school playing piano in a dancing school. AndÖ
Peppin:So it was popular music? This is popular dance music?
Blazier:No. No. No. No. This is classical ballet.
Peppin:Oh, classical? Oh, ballet? Oh ballet? Okay. Yeah
Blazier:Yeah, Classical ballet. And, at the start of my senior year, just before the start of my senior year, the municipal high school that Iíd been attending wouldnít adjust my schedule so that I had late afternoons free to go and do my piano bit (.) at the ballet school. So, as a result I transferred to the Catholic high school, who were very happy to have a non-Catholic [Laugh] in their group. There were two of us in the senior class of roughly seventy, eighty people, that kind of thing.
Peppin:You know the name of that school?
Blazier:Yeah. It was Cathedral High School, in Wichita. And, they were very liberal about letting me off at two-thirty in the afternoon and then I would go and work at the dancing academy until roughly six or seven in the evening. So, when I graduated, as I said I had these aspirations of going ahead and being a concert pianist. I was sixteen at the time of graduation and my family finally decided to let me go to New York and try out at Juilliard to see what I might do. And, after one semester at Juilliard I discovered I did not have the makings to be a concert pianist. World War II had started by then. This was 1942, a long time ago. So, I enlisted in what, at that time, was known as the U.S. Army Air force. This is before, (Peppin: Yeah. I know, Yeah.) before the Air Force was [???].
Peppin:What made you enlist? Patriotic or you didnít know what else to do at the time?
Blazier:Well, yeah, kind of a mixture. You know, I didnít know what else to do. It was obvious that I was going to be drafted at some point. (Peppin: Yeah. Yeah.) And, the Air Force was more attractive to me than the infantry. And, the way that they screened people when you came into something like the Air Force was in terms of what your talents were. Because I was a pianist they decided Iíd be very good going to code school. [Laughter] (Peppin: Uh huh.) But, in code school they were desperate for people in radar and electronics. So, I transferred into the radar and electronics setup, and I was in that a few months and learned all about radar and electronics. And, suddenly I found myself in a bombardier navigator school. [Laugh]
Peppin:Where was this school? Was this the one in Monterrey?
Blazier:There was one in — where was it? In, oh god, excuse me a moment. South Dakota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The other one was in Boca Raton, Florida and the last one was in Chanute Field in Illinois, which is south of Chicago.
Peppin:So, you were about eighteen at the time (Blazier: Yeah.) something like that?
Blazier:Well yeah. The, so I finally, you know, ended up as a bombardier navigator on a B-17, and had a period in the European theater as a bombardier navigator. Since then Iíve been traveling all over Europe and seen the damage that we did [Laugh] and really, I, itís not really an experience that I like to recount very much. But anyway, I came out of the service after the close of the war, this was 1945, with all of this experience in radar electronics, geometric stuff, the Norden Bomb Sight, the whole bit, and I tried to get into a number of universities. I tried Cornell, mainly, is where I wanted to go, but everybody was, everything was full.
Peppin:By all the returning GIs and stuff?
Blazier:Well, the returning GIs. But, since I was born and raised in the state of Kansas they had to accept me at the [Laugh] University of Kansas.
Peppin:Yeah. Accept their own.
Blazier:Thatís how I wound up there.
Blazier:And so, I went into what was the logical thing, a course in engineering physics, and I got my bachelorís degree there. And, then I came back to Wichita and decided Iíd go ahead for a Masters, but I needed some financial support to do this. And, the University of Wichita had a good graduate course in physics and I went there and at the same time worked for what they called the Foundation for Industrial Research at the university, which was kind of interesting. Wichita was essentially the air capitol of the world. It had Beech, Boeing, and Cessna aircraft there, and all of these little supporting sheet metal shops, etcetera, all over the community that fed into that. Plus, the aircraft companies suddenly did not have any business.
Peppin:The war is over.
Blazier:Warís over. So, they were all going into rather diversified things. Beech Aircraft was building Coca Cola machines. [Laugh] But, the Foundation for Industrial Research was set up by Beech, Boeing, and Cessna as a fund to do research for new businesses that might feed into these little industries that were desperate. And so, I was in that Foundation. And, most of the work that I did involved acoustics. And the company that was most interested in what I had done was the Coleman Lamp & Stove Company.
Peppin:Uh huh. Coleman Lamp, oh yeah. Yeah.
Blazier:Yeah. The Coleman lantern. But, at that time they had decided to expand into residential air conditioning. And, at that time there was an inducement to use natural gas instead of electricity, and they had four research projects going for natural gas, basic power for air conditioning. And, I was doing the research on their air-cooled condenser approach, which was mainly a problem with fan noise, compressor noise, and that kinds of thing.
Peppin:Well, when you were doing, when you had your undergraduate in physics did you have any, a major at that time?
Blazier:The major was physics.
Peppin:Just physics? (Blazier: Yeah.) Just general things?
Blazier:Well yes, and, andÖ
Blazier:I had a lot of electives in the electrical engineering.
Peppin:I gotcha. Gotcha.
Blazier:But, at that time current flowed in the opposite direction. [Laughter]
Peppin:Now, so did you have any idea what, after you get out what you were going to do?
Blazier:The, you see, the first job that I had after I got out of the university at the masters level I went to work for Boeing and their Bombing Navigational Computer Section for the B-47. It was a huge Sperry computer system, monstrous stuff. And, everything was done with Synchros. [Laugh] And, I worked at that for a while, a couple years actually.
Peppin:So you, you, you were at Coleman for a while doing HVAC stuff?
Blazier:Well, well that was later.
Blazier:My first job was with Boeing.
Peppin:Oh, with Boeing?
Blazier:Then Coleman came after me because of the research that I had done and the help that I been for them earlier.
Peppin:Earlier? Yeah. Okay.
Blazier:Through the Foundation at the University.
Blazier:And, there was a new director of Engineering & Research that had come to Coleman, but who had a long history working with big companies like GE, etcetera. And, he hired me and set up an acoustics research group within the Coleman Company to work in the Product Development in the air conditioning world.
Blazier:And, I was there for, letís see, four years. This director of engineering was a job-hopping kind of guy and he was offered the Research & Engineering head for the York Division, in York, Pennsylvania, and he offered me the job there and was willing to build an acoustical facility to do the research work. And so, I went to York in 1957.
Peppin:York, PA? To York, Pennsylvania?
Blazier:York, PA, yeah.
Peppin:And this was like in the, pretty much, beginning of the commercial world, isnít it?
Blazier:Thatís, thatís the whole point, you see. What was happening was after, right after World War II the construction of high-rise buildings, air conditioned, started with a big boom and everybody was running into these problems with HVAC noise control. And York was in the middle of this thing mainly with their compressor equipment. And, and so there was a need for a lot of research, a lot of product testing, etcetera and so forth, so we built the laboratory at York, which was comparable to the lab at Carrier that time. We had a 25,000 cubic foot reverberation room and a 12,000 cubic foot hemi-anechoic chamber. Itís all still there. [Laugh] Patrick Marks controls it now.
Blazier:Itís Johnson Controls now. And so, I worked in a number of product developments at York, a lot of them still in force today. The centrifugal compressor equipment built for the Navy. That was to very rigid acoustical vibration standards. Theyíre still building them.
Peppin:Wow. Youíre still in your twenties now, right? I mean, this is while you were still in your twenties?
Blazier:Well no, itís into my thirties by then. Weíre talking 1957.
Blazier:And I was born in Ď23.
Peppin:Yeah. Okay. Yeah.
Blazier:So, attending Acoustical Society meetings I met Preston Schmitz and Ted Schultz.
Peppin:How, now so, did you want to go to the Acoustical Society meetings or did your boss?
Blazier:Oh, oh wellÖ
Peppin:Howíd you get to get there, then?
Blazier:Well, at that time it was pretty essential to my job that I be involved.
Blazier:See, these were all small groups at that time.
Blazier:You know, it wasnít the big monstrous thing like it is now. We were all in a learning phase. Because a lot of what we did was trial and error. The theory was developed later based on the empirical data. And I, I developed a good friendship with both Preston Smith and Ted Schultz.
Peppin:Where was Ted working at the time?
Blazier:Ted had just left Boeing, Santa Monica. I mean, Douglas, Santa Monica. He had worked on the TC-8, at that point. And he had, he had been at BBN maybe a year. Preston Smith had come in about that time and was working primarily in underwater acoustics. But anyway, Ted thought it would be a good idea to talk to Leo to see if perhaps BBN could use me. BBN came in with a very good financial offer and I joined BBN in 1963.
Blazier:In Cambridge. Yeah. Among the projects I did there was the acoustical facility for the Trane Company, which theyíre still using. [Laugh]
Blazier:And, and a number of other acoustical facilities, of course smaller. But mainly, my job at BBN was troubleshooting all of the problems in New York City. Because thatís, thatís where everything started. (And, and things like the Time-Life Building and Rockefeller Center, all of that was just being done.
Peppin:So, most of your acoustics was HVAC building acoustics (Blazier: Right.) related?
Blazier:I picked up the room acoustic stuff just by .assimilation, .you know, osmosis. And my close relationship with Ted Schultz was a very, very valuable source of knowledge to me. And, so I guess it was a year later, like 1964, the L.A. office was composed of three people, no four people. Two of them mainly in the aircraft thing. This is Bill Galloway. The acoustics side was Red Wetherall and Jack Purcell. And they were in a, [Laugh] BBN was in a refined grocery store [Laugh] on Melrose. But, they had no mechanical noise expert. So, I transferred from Cambridge to Los Angeles to join Purcell and Wetherall.
Peppin:Did you want to get to San Francisco at the time? I mean —
Blazier:Well, I wanted to get out.
Peppin:— to Los Alamos maybe?
Blazier:I wanted to get out of Boston.
Peppin:Out of Boston? Yeah, I got ya. [Laugh]
Blazier:I didnít like the winters. California was a great, marvelous objective. I was very, very happy at the transfer.
Blazier:And so, that was 1964. BBN in Los Angeles grew very, very fast at that point, and I think we were up to about seventy people.
Blazier:Doing mainly — well, it was the whole aircraft thing, you know, all of that, plus they were getting into the computer sciences. This is, this is where all the computer stuff that BBN ultimately switched to started.
Peppin:Started in L.A.?
Blazier:Yeah. A guy by the name of Weldon Clark. And, and there was, it was a really a large group. The, and we ended up out in the San Fernando Valley in a, in a building that BBN built and then subleased back. There was a BBN Development Company, which was (Peppin: I see.) which was a private thing with Leo and that group. They got the building structure, leased it back to BBN, [Laugh] who later sold it to the U.S. Post Office as a site for the big post office to be built and thatís when BBN then moved out to Canoga Park. They were originally in Van Nuys. Well, just before that Red and I both were doing most of our consulting work in San Francisco, which had the High-Rise Group, you know, there. And, we were spending probably eighty percent of our time up there. And so Sam Labate, who really ran BBN decided, ďWell, itís time for a branch office.Ē So, Red and I went up and opened the office in San Francisco in 1968. (Peppin: Uh huh.) BBN, historically, had always figured that you had to have two managers; one to worry about the administrative side of the office, the other to worry about the technical side of the office. So, Red and I had this split responsibility, [Laugh] and it was a very difficult situation because we were a small office (Peppin: Yeah. Yeah.) and there wasnít that much work for two people. At the same time BBN required that we be seventy-five percent chargeable. [Laugh] And, we picked up Dennis Paoletti. Our first, our first employee was Dave Walsh, who came out from Washburn University of Saint Louis with his wife Jeannie. And then Dennis Paoletti. And then Joel Lewitz and Mike Bobechko.
Peppin:He was there too? Oh.
Blazier:Oh yeah. Yeah. Mike was there, and, and very interesting. Mike was an excellent consultant. At that time Kaiser Chemical & Aluminum had some noise problems and we sent Mike out to make the proposal. Mike came out, came back with a job [Laughter] and left us, and went to Kaiser Chemical & Aluminum and was there quite a few years. Now heís in the dirt hauling business. [Laughter] You know. But, but anyway, and we, BBN had gotten into theater consulting at that time. And so, there was also a theater consulting Group. And, we built up to a staff of about seventeen people.
Peppin:Who were competitors then, down in L.A.?
Blazier:Okay. All right, we, in San Francisco we had a few single consultant competitors, but the main competitor was Wilson-Irig. You know?
Blazier:And George Wilson and I are very, very good friends. The, there was really so much business that it wasnít really a question of competition. It worked very nicely. We were doing quite well when BBN started, BBN went from private to a public stock corporation. At that time the whole management philosophy changed. BBN originally was an association of scientific types where making of a profit was not as important as supporting the staff. In other words, we made enough money to pay for the staff that was fine. When they went public then they became concerned with profit and stock, etcetera, and by this time they were into the computer market. Their first medical computer system they sold to GE, which has developed that. They were into the ARPA Net, which was the birth of the Internet as we know it today. Thatís a BBN thing. What Iím getting at is that itís kind of interesting. Ninety percent of their overhead was in support of the Architectural and Noise Control Group, ninety percent of the overhead. Eleven percent of the profit was due to that.
Peppin:Did they have a lot of military money profits?
Blazier:Well, see, thatís the thing. In the Cambridge Group a tremendous number of long-term government projects, primarily in underwater sound. So, you had this one group in Cambridge that were a hundred percent chargeable, and then you have the Architectural Group .that had a hard time being greater than sixty percent chargeable. So, the overhead costs were all pushed towards the (Peppin: So a large percent?) that group. And, the new president, who was an MBA, said, ďThis is silly to have all these branch offices.Ē At that time we were in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco. And, they wiped all of those out except Los Angeles. And, the interesting thing in the San Francisco office, most of the consultants went into private practice; Dennis Paoletti and Joel Lewitz formed that, that group.
Peppin:Were you expecting this to happen or did you see it coming?
Blazier:We saw it coming. At one point everything was divisionalized by then and we were so-called Division II. At that point they hired Ken Eldred away from Wiley.
Blazier:And, Ken wasnít the best manager in the world. [Laugh]
Peppin:Uh huh. For the San Francisco office?
Blazier:Not for the SanÖ
Peppin:Or, or L.A.?
Blazier:For the, for the division.
Peppin:Oh, the division?
Blazier:He had the whole, all of the branch offices (Peppin: Right.) he was in charge of. And, he had this idea that you got to grow a staff. And, he loaded us up with more people than we needed to supply the market as it existed. At the same time, the corporate people started applying a general administrative charge to all of our work of forty-two percent.
Blazier:Yeah. So, if we took a trip for a client, the client was billed for the cost of the trip plus forty-two percent. All of our overhead carried a forty-two percent GNA. So, our profit, based on that, was negative. And this is why the MBA president says, ďGet rid of this.Ē ďItís only eleven percent of our profit but itís ninety percent of our overhead.Ē So the, the most of us went into private practice. The Ö
Peppin:Was that a consideration? I mean, did you think, ďWell, maybe I should go work for, go back to L.A.?Ē orÖ
Blazier:Well, I, yeah, I was given an option of going to L.A. or Cambridge either one. I didnít really see an advantage to going to L.A., mainly because I didnít think they needed what I had to offer. By that time Colin Gordon was on the scene in L.A. Ron McCabe was doing a great job of the architectural side of the business, and there was a lot of unfinished work in San Francisco that had to be worked off. So, I went on half salary for a year to finish that off and I went into my own practice with fifty percent of my time being working on old BBN projects. And thatís basically how I got started in my own practice, because most of my costs were covered by my income from, from the BBN project.
Peppin:Right. Did you work out of your home?
Blazier:No. No. I had, I had three different offices. What I did was I started off with one of these rent-an-office situation where you had a complex with a group of Secretaries. They had a Receptionist and you had phone lines that came into the receptionist that answered the name of yourÖ that whole bit. At that time everything was manual, you know. Computers were just starting, in terms of word processing.
Peppin:When was this?
Blazier:That would have been 1970.
Peppin:Yeah. Yeah. Uhm-hmm.
Blazier:See the, the, all of that started later. But, in the Ď70s you were still writing out your copies and (Pepping: A draft.) sending it to a secretaries; sends it back; you proofread it; make the corrections; it goes back to the secretary. You know the routine?
Peppin:Yeah, I know that. Yeah.
Blazier:And, and thatís so different than today. You donít need a Secretary.
Blazier:You just, you need a computer and a printer.
Blazier:And so, the rent-an-office situation turned out to be pretty expensive in terms of overhead. And, in this office complex that I was in I got friendly with an attorney who had left a large attorney firm because he decided he wanted to be more independent. Quite an Entrepreneur. And, he decided to open his own office, and he had more space than he needed. So, I rented office space from him and his office staff did the telephone answering and that kind of thing. And, he moved three times. [Laugh] And, but I recall when we first started this he was paying $18 a square foot for office space, prime locations. By the end of three or four years it was up to $35 a square foot. And, he decided to move to the East Bay, an Oakland home area where things were cheaper. I had no interest in moving to the East Bay, and so thatís when I went independent and I had my own office downtown for a couple of years. And then, rental costs just got completely out of hand, and by that time I was not dependent at all upon any kind of a secretarial support.
Peppin:Right, because you had computers?
Blazier:So, I just simply moved to a home office.
Blazier:And that, that worked out.
Peppin:Did you live in a house or an apartment?
Blazier:And for a time — huh?
Peppin:Downtown in San Francisco?
Blazier:Oh, in San Francisco, yeah. Actually, in the Marina District.
Peppin:Oh, nice. Yeah.
Blazier:A nice, fairly large apartment. We have rent control .in San Francisco, and thirty-three years later Iím still in the same apartment, [Laugh] with an owner whoís not too happy with me [Laugh] because Iím paying one-third of the market rate. [Laughter]
Peppin:Yeah, I can imagine.
Blazier:And, but the apartment was large enough that I could take the second bedroom, which was fairly roomy and convert that into an office. And all I needed was a computer and a printer.
Peppin:Right. Did you, so the work you got first you got the, this was the left over BBN work and (Blazier: Yeah.) and then you developed a reputation on your own and you gotÖ
Blazier:Well yeah. See, weíd been there several years and our main client was [???], Moraines, and Merrill, you know, who were just doing a huge amount of work. Ashen and Allen was another very prominent client. And so, I had a working relationship with a lot of firms in San Francisco, and when BBN disappeared, and San Francisco doesnít particularly like to go to Los Angeles for help, [Laughter] so I, I had, I had really a, I had more project work than I could handle actually, for a while. Then, then I donít know whether you remember Ken Oliphant?
Blazier:Ken. Ken was my main competitor at that time. And, and when Ken died thatís about the time that Charlie Salter decided to come into the market. And he came into the market with a cut-rate cookbook-type of practice where he could take young graduates out of school, with not much training, give them a cookbook, and, and he has, heís captured a good amount of that.
Peppin:Very big firm now, yeah.
Blazier:Oh, itís a huge firm. Huge firm. But the, the, they donít have what I would consider highly-qualified staff, and quite a big turnover in the staff.
Blazier:They work mainly from the cookbook kind of thing. If you have a problem you look in the book and .find out what to do. (Peppin: Right.) But, they have captured most of the market. Over the last four or five years my project activity has been largely consulting on problems that have occurred after the fact in construction, and problems mainly in HVAC. And, and so that I, and Iíll just say that at this point Iíve kind of become a consultantís consultant. I help Dave Walsh and Joel Lewitz out in that group. The new Staff that came in really donít have a lot of field experience, and you see a lot of reinvention of the wheel, and the, the, so that itís a very interesting role that Iím in now. Maybe twenty, twenty-five percent of my time is in consulting.
Peppin:Right. Do you, just a, you started anyway, after BBN youíre working more or less full-time. Are you doing that now full-time or you take time off?
Blazier:About twenty-five percent.
Peppin:Twenty-five, oh, oh okay.
Blazier:Twenty-five to thirty percent.
Peppin:Oh, okay. I thought the twenty-five percent was on, you were doing work for consultants twenty-five percent of the time?
Blazier:Well, no the, itís a mixture. No the, if, I would say that maybe a third of the time Iím involved one way or the other. After all, I am getting along in years. [Laugh]
Peppin:Yeah. Well. So, the other times, the seventy-five percent or so is fun, or leisure, or (Blazier: Yeah.) education, or something?
Blazier:Yeah. And Technical Society activities.
Peppin:Right. Right. Right.
Blazier:When you stop and think about it you get pretty busy there with ASA, ASHRAE, INCE, all of that.
Blazier:Then basically, basically that supplemental income is what allows me to attend the meetings.
Blazier:It doesnít go to improve my standard of living, but actually just the activities, they keep me going at this late age.
Blazier:And, itís nice, a nice situation.
Peppin:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it reminded me. You broke your hip a couple of months ago?
Blazier:No, I have a new hip.
Peppin:Howís that going?
Blazier:My joints are wearing out. [Laugh]
Blazier:The hip surgery was quite successful. The problem is that other joints are going now. [Laugh] So, Iím still somewhat mobility-impaired, and, but I just turned eighty-four. So. [Laugh]
Peppin:Thatís pretty good.
Blazier:Itís to be expected, I think.
Peppin:Oh yeah. Yeah. On the, on the say technical sense, like you know, I guess you were a consultant for BBN for a while, then you became almost world famous in a way. How did that happen?
Blazier:WellÖa lot of the projects were, well most of the project work was successful. The thing is that my early experience in the field told me what worked and what didnít work. And, Iím able to walk into projects that are in trouble and pretty quickly diagnose the reason. (Yeah.) And, people have latched onto that. Lots of times all they really want to know is, ďCan it be fixed?Ē Or, ďWhatís it going to, or what do we have to do to fix it?Ē And, and they can get a relatively quick judgment opinion made and that, that has kind of gotten around. [Laugh]
Peppin:Yeah. Well, how did you get involved in the room criteria area?
Blazier:Basically the problem was, ďWhat do we have to do to satisfy the claim?Ē Thatís how it really all started. The, the big bump came in the late Ď70s in HVAC when by Federal Mandate they went from constant volume air distribution system to variable volume air distribution system. In the constant volume days we could design the equipment to specific criteria as far as the terminal, air terminals, and that made me concerned because it was a fixed volume. In the variable volume situation, the problems really began to arise with low-frequency noise. Because, as the, in the design requirements they always designed to the maximum capacity requirement. In the real world once a system is settled out youíre only running at about sixty percent capacity. In terms of the reduction in airflow thatís a good ten to twelve dB reduction in mid and high-frequency noise, for example, out of diffusers. So, what really happened was that we went from the constant volume days where we were working towards a fairly well-balanced sound spectrum to a situation now where we have a steeply sloping spectrum of predominant low-frequency noise. And thatís what led me into — I got interested in this whole thing and Lou Goodfriend did a research project for ASHRAE where they looked at NC, PNC, dBA, all of those criteria.
Peppin:Did you know him at the time as a colleague? OrÖ
Blazier:Yeah, I knew him. We had clashed on airport volume control for the Port of New York, on several occasions. Yeah, Lou was an adversary, really. Friendly, but really quite adversary. And, and we had an office in New York that was, at that time was staffed by Russell Johnson, and Ted Schultz was coming down from Cambridge, and I was coming down from Cambridge to support that operation. And, we were then clashing with Lou Goodfriend, who had most ofÖ
Peppin:He had most of the work in the area?
Blazier:Most of the work at that time, [Laugh] and we were interlopers. So he, initially the relationship wasnít friendly at all when we first knew him.
Peppin:Was, so was Kodaras [Mike Kodaras] there at the time too?
Blazier:No, Kodaras was much later than that. Yeah. The, yeah there, in New York Proper there wasnít anyone but Goodfriend.
Peppin:But Goodfriend? Yeah. Yeah.
Blazier:There were some people in Connecticut. Canít think of his name at the moment. Well, Harold Mull, do you remember him?
Blazier:Do you remember him at all?
Blazier:And his partner.
Peppin:Right. [Lou Bell]
Blazier:They were doing work in New York, and out to Connecticut. Paul Ostergaard came in a little bit later, with Ostergaard Associates.
Blazier:Cerami started somewhat later. Vito Cerami worked for Mason industries in [Korfund], and he went out on his own as a consultant and formed Cerami Associates. And, they became the most predominant consultant in New York.
Peppin:New York. Yeah.
Blazier:And, they still are pretty important, which is kind of interesting. Of course, with Vito gone and a couple of his partners and so forth, I guess Victoria runs that now.
Peppin:She runs it? Thatís hard to believe.
Blazier:I know. [Laughter]
Peppin:What, well so when you got involved with this room, low-frequency stuff, was itÖ?
Blazier:Well, as I was saying is this, this study that Lou did for ASHRAE, he looked at gobs of offices, a hundred or so, that had acceptable background noise, noise environments. He made the measurements and then he tested those against the various criteria at the time and he concluded that they all werenít the same because they were all tangent methods, or A-weighted methods. I got interested in this and, because I was looking for criterion for an acceptable environment.
Peppin:For a specific job you were looking or just in general as a (Blazier: In general.)
Blazier:General. I had no contract. This was just kind of a general interest. So, I got a hold of the raw data of the Louís project from ASHRAE and I picked, I went to forty to sixty of those that all had an A-weighted level of the order of 45 dBA, just as a selection. And, I went through those and developed the spectrum shapes for all of them, made a plot, and then drew a line through the plot, [Laugh] which was a 5 dBA per octave slope. And, I was already concerned that the NC curves, the slope was too great at low frequencies.
Peppin:At low frequencies? Uh huh.
Blazier:It was permitting a lot of low-frequency noise to be acceptable when it wasnít. It hadnít been tested, you see, because in the constant volume days we didnít have low-frequency problems and all of our problems were mid and high frequency. So, the NC tangent method worked pretty well. You know, the RC curve and the NC curve donít really differ much above 250 Hz. The departure is below that, but the, this didnít really become obvious until we got into the variable volume systems and we had a low-frequency spectrum. And, thatís basically why I did the study of the, of Goodfriendís early work, which is all constant-volume, you see. So, all of his acceptable slopes, you know, are within the range of -5 dB per octave with a scatter of 1 or 2 dB. And so, thatís, thatís why I developed the curve. Now, as far as extending the slope of the curve down to 16 Hz, I was aware at the time that what we call ďrumbleĒ is a time variant kind of thing and I was concerned that an RMS time average wasnít really zeroing in on the negative thatís the problem. And, so I decided that if I extend this -5 dB per octave slope Iím kind of indirectly compensating for the fact that theyíre making an RMS measurement.
Peppin:Yeah. Yeah. Well, couldÖ
Blazier:If you want to do RMS measurements then use this curve and itís deliberately low, because it takes care of the fluctuations. Itís a guess. A guess. And so, the original RC method was kind of based on that philosophy.
Peppin:But so, like you were doing this in your spare time in a way, right, (Blazier: Yeah. Yeah.) working on RC?
Blazier:Yeah, and writing papers for ASHRAE and .yeah this was all, no contract at all.
Peppin:Is this how it came, so it became public through ASHRAE papers?
Blazier:ASHRAE papers and the, the main publications were in INCE.
Peppin:INCE? Uh huh.
Blazier:Yeah, there are several papers there on this. And, and then the, the later stuff in INCE that, that we published, I published with Chuck Ebbing was to emphasize the fact that low-frequency fluctuations were really the problem, that we really couldnít do this unless we looked at the statistics of the signal. It hasnít gone anyplace because itís complicated to do. [Laugh]
Peppin:To do? Right.
Blazier:People would rather read it on a meter. (Peppin: Right.) And so, Iíd taken it about as far as I could at the time. Thatís kind of why I was interested in what, what Lily Wang .is finding. Though, thereís an artifactÖ
Peppin:I didnít see what artifact.
Blazier:Well, thereís an artifact in her study that bothers me very much. Their reproduction system is poor at 63 Hz and theyíre not looking, really, at the bands where the problem is, which is the band below that. And so, kind of what theyíre getting is a superficial fluctuation. There is time variation in their signal, but itís not the fundamental. So, that theyíre not really getting the, the subjective result which you do in a real environment. In a real environment this low-frequency stuff you sense, you donít necessarily hear it. And, and thatís why I was interested in the work done by Kirsten Waig of Sweden. In her first study, where these spectrum was actually an HVA system that Geoff Leventhal cobbled up to make it rumbley.
Blazier:Yeah. [Laugh] Oh yeah. And, and the people that were running, that were taking these tests, which were very clever, you know, they, there were three lights and one of them was yellow, and they were doing their task and these lights were flashing. And when the yellow light came on they were to write down what they thought at that point. And, and so that, and she did this both with an NC-shaped spectrum and the RC spectrum, down at the low RC level, a fairly decent test. And interviewing, and interviewing these people most of them commented that there was — there was a difference between the RC and the NC experiment — and in interviewing the people that had gone through the RC spectrum, the NC spectrum, they said that they just didnít feel very well that day, they had been subjected to pressure, pressure on the head, [Laugh] you know, disposition wise. Nobody said ďnoise.Ē They talked about the subjective way they feel, which is exactly what I have, you know, observed in these environments that have got it, and lots of hotel meeting rooms have it, as you know.
Peppin:Right. Right. Oh yeah.
Blazier:But it, so that Iím frustrated with the fact that we continue to play around with noise criteria without looking at the statistics. Because if, and Iím restricting this to HVAC-type noise. And, itís, I donít know where itís eventually going to go. Your meter equipment now will give you statistics, but the, thereís no work being done with that. We had hoped that Norm Bronerís study would have worked.
Peppin:We all hoped there.
Blazier:There were problems there. [Laugh]
Peppin:I know. Well, you mentioned Chuck. How did you meet Chuck, from ASHRAE?
Blazier:I was doing consulting work for Carrier.
Peppin:Oh, I see.
Blazier:Yeah. See, Paul Ostergaard was at Carrier when I was at York.
Peppin:Okay. Uh huh.
Blazier:Yeah. Okay. And, Ostergaard and I had a number of interfaces because we were the only two people in the industry that had test facilities, and we were learning all kinds of peculiar things. And so, we had, we had a very, very good relationship. He left to form Ostergaard Associates, and Carrier was unhappy that he left. They wouldnít call him in for [Laugh] consulting. They called me. And, Chuck Ebbing was a junior engineer when I was doing my first work. Peter Baade was there at the time and, but I met Chuck and then over the years we developed a very, very close relationship. And, Chuck is a damn good acoustician but really a marvelous manager. And, TC2.6 really benefited a lot from his input.
Blazier:And you can, you can seeÖ
Peppin:He was good at (Blazier: Oh, yeah.) getting things done.
Blazier:Yeah. Organizing. Yeah, very good at it.
Blazier:And, yeah I, I certainly see the change in TC 2.6 with Chuck out of there. And, and so itís just been an evolution (Peppin: Right.) kind of thing. The, I attend most of these meetings to let people know Iím still alive and kicking, [Laugh] and active.
Peppin:Well, you contribute too. I guess the criteria meeting coming up tomorrow, maybe, (Blazier: Yeah.) but I donít think anythingís being done but you have to be there.
Blazier:Well the, you know, thereís an interesting thing that happened. After this executive committee kind of thing was formed in TC 2.6, the guy from Canada.
Blazier:No. Not Alf. Al was a close friend. Our last Chairman. Not, not,
Peppin:Oh. Gunther? Brian Gunther?
Blazier:Yeah. Brian Gunther you see, see, the present guyÖ
Blazier:No, not Pat Marks. The one just before Pat.
Peppin:Karl Peterman? Yeah.
Blazier:Karl was at Newcomb & Boyd.
Peppin:Uh huh. Yeah.
Blazier:Okay. And, Steve Sessler was in charge. And Steve Sessler wrote a paper on chiller noise, after mine. [Laugh] But, Karl Peterman is a very, very good engineer. Brian Gunther and his father are both politicians.
Blazier:When the Criteria Committee was formed, I was excluded.
Peppin:Oh geeze. ThatísÖ [Laugh]
Blazier:And I, I asked Ted Carnes why this happened and .he said, ďWell, Brian thought that we needed some fresh ideas.Ē [Laugh]
Peppin:That doesnít make sense.
Blazier:Well, it was really a blow to me because you work all this time developing a definition of what the problem is and people wonít face up to the fact that itís more complicated than simplyÖ
Peppin:Theyíre looking for like an easy (Blazier: Yeah.) and easy out.
Blazier:So now that Ted (Carnes) is chairperson of the Criteria Committee Iím an honorary member. [Laugh]
Peppin:I saw that. You and Chuck, honorary members.
Blazier:Well the, the whole idea is that theyíre tired of hearing me talk.
Blazier:You know, itís the same story.
Peppin:Makes sense. Yeah.
Blazier:You, youíve got a problem with RMS measurements at low frequencies because youíre not really looking at the thing thatís creating the objection. And, I donít know what it is but people have a hard time coping with that. The, so theyíre looking for fresh ideas, you know. [Laugh]
Peppin:Like some of the old ideas arenít good? So, what about, so I know more or less your history at ASHRAE, but you were also involved at ASA and INCE too?
Blazier:Oh yeah. Yeah.
Peppin:When did you join ASA, do you remember?
Peppin:ASA. Iíve got to switch here.
Peppin:Yeah, hold on. Hold on.
Blazier:That was in the Ď50s, late Ď50s.
Peppin:Hold on. Let me justÖ In the late Ď50s?
Yeah. I joined ASA and ASHRAE about the same time.