Earlier this year, I shared some of the things I've learned while doing my job. If you missed it, you can catch up here and see some of the interesting things I've picked up so we could deliver the best possible product to meet our clients' needs. The last blog's focus was more product based. Today I want to share some things about acoustics.
We recently finished Saint James School’s Fine Arts building, which, as you might suspect, houses all their arts programs. One of the challenges here was their need for practice rooms that ensured sound did not travel into the adjacent practice room. While we have designed acoustically separated spaces in the past, it wasn't to the extent required in this project. The best design for these rooms was a box within box construction. We essentially built a room completely separate from the adjacent room, complete with separate walls, ceilings, and floors that float on rubber isolation pads. Additionally, none of the practice rooms have all four walls that are all perfectly perpendicular. Instead, one wall in each room is angled for better sound distribution. In the performance space, we kicked it up a notch and have multiple walls at slight angles to achieve the best sound projection.
In other cases, we are looking to create not just acoustically dampening rooms, but complete information isolation since some of our clients perform top secret work. For them, a SCIF room(s) is an absolute necessity. These rooms are designed with special RF coatings in the walls, ceilings, and floor to block communication signals. The walls and ceilings also have a metal type mesh to protect against listening devices from penetrating the walls. Those are just a few of the things we do to make the room secure. Unlike the high-tech rooms from your favorite TV or movie spy thriller, real SCIFs usually just have a desk and a couple safes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that future SCIF rooms incorporate laser beam security systems like in Mission Impossible so I learn about them too.
Part of providing good, responsive design is learning all about our clients and finding the best way to meet their needs. For me, it makes architecture a journey of constant discovery. And just maybe that journey will take me to the laser beams one day.