Garland Pipe Organs



Dan Garland, President & Tonal Director


Builder’s Notes on University Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas

University Presbyterian Church is an active and growing congregation located on the edge of the campus of the University of Texas. The building was constructed in the mid fifties including a pipe organ in the Chancel. The entire Sanctuary was renovated including a new pipe organ. The acoustic of the original room was not good. After careful inspection it was determined that the ceiling of the Sanctuary was thin fiber board nailed to the rafters. As part of the renovation this was removed and replaced with two layers of 5/8” sheetrock attached with drywall screws to the rafters. All carpet in the room was removed with the exception of the middle aisle. The organ chambers which had been square rooms in the Sanctuary on either side of the Chancel were cut off at an angle to increase floor space in the Choir area and improve tonal projection of the pipe organ into the room. In the original organ chambers the tone openings faced each other in the Chancel with out openings facing the Nave. There was no exposed pipework. The acoustics are now some of the best in Austin.

After the renovation the organ chambers retained their interior height but the floor space was decreased and the basic shape was that of an odd triangle. Although this change made designing the instrument challenging the decreased depth of the chambers greatly improved the tonal egress into the Sanctuary. The organ would now speak toward the Nave. The original installation was all on one level. With the decreased floor space the new design required that the instrument be on two levels in both chambers. The left chamber contains the Swell in the lower level and the Choir in the upper. Both of these divisions are expressive in new MDF enclosures. This enclosure was a challenge to design and build because of the shape of the organ chamber. In order to use all the space available the new enclosures contain several compound angles in the ceilings.

The right chamber contains the unenclosed Great and Pedal divisions. The Great is on the lower level matching the height of the Swell and the Pedal is on the upper. Keeping the Great and Swell on the lower level ensured cohesive tuning between the two divisions. Upon completion of the instrument air conditioning ducts were installed in both chambers to achieve proper temperature.

The facade casework contains much of the Pedal 16’ Principal and Part of the Great 8’ Principal. The casework is constructed of mahogany and was built in our shop. The two largest towers containing three pipes each weighs 400 pounds without the pipework. The walls on which the facade cases are installed are not structural so the weight of the casework is held by the floors of the organ chambers. With the cases being cantilevered they would fall forward without being significantly secured at the top. This was accomplished by steel cables attached to the upper portion of the cases and then attached to the structural steel located in the building roof structure.

With the exception of the large pedal pipes the action of the instrument is electro-mechanical. The three manual drop sill drawknob console was assembled in our shop. The entire instrument was built and set up in our shop and then dismantled and transported to Austin. Upon arrival the Sanctuary renovation was complete. The location of tone openings and casework was covered with finished sheetrock. Our first task was to cut openings in the sheetrock using the casework as pattern. After the openings were cut the bulk of the instrument was placed in the chambers after which the facade cases were installed. Many who hear this 45 rank instrument say it sounds like 60. This proves to me that a good acoustic and shallow chambers with large tone openings are as important to the success of an instrument as is the number of ranks.

— Dan Garland
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