Metropolitan Acoustics would like to say thanks for the privilege and opportunity to join all the incredible design teams this past year. As Thanksgiving approaches, projects are nearing their end-of-year deadlines and many in the industry face their busiest time of year. In these crunch times, it’s easy to forget to include your neighborhood acoustician on your team until late in design; others may entirely overlook the importance of acoustics to the success of their project. We would like to debunk the seemingly growing misconception that an acoustical consultant should be brought in late in design; in fact, most projects benefit from acoustical insight early on to help coordinate big-ticket items. We understand that this may not always be intuitive, so we have compiled the following guide.
Conceptual Design and Schematic Design.
Most professionals know to involve an acoustical consultant early for recording studios and performance spaces as the geometry of these spaces can seal their acoustical fate, but almost all projects require acoustical input during schematic design. Along with helping the client understand expectations and determine appropriate acoustical design criteria, examples of coordination items and scope during SDs include:
- Location of major pieces of mechanical equipment.
- Roof construction considerations including concrete roof decks.
- Noise ordinance review.
- Exterior sound studies.
- Building façade and exterior glazing recommendations.
- Emergency equipment room size and location.
- Structural coordination for depressed slabs and structural spans.
- Preliminary recommendations for room acoustics, interior sound isolation, and mechanical system noise and vibration control.
All these items require heavy coordination with several disciplines, including architectural, mechanical, and structural. Sustainable programs with acoustical credits, such as LEED or WELL, and healthcare projects designed under FGI typically require further acoustical investigation during the schematic phase.
Acoustical foundations set during conceptual and SD phases are further refined during DDs; typically, this phase includes sound isolation recommendations for interior wall and floor-ceiling assemblies and finishes for room acoustics. An acoustical consultant brought in at DDs would be at a disadvantage for coordination of the big-ticket items mentioned above; it’s possible that some mitigation solutions may no longer be practical to implement, and a more costly solution or lesser degree of acoustical performance becomes unavoidable.
The CD phase typically focuses on detailed mechanical system noise and vibration control and final recommendations for emergency equipment isolation. If an acoustician is brought in at CDs, additional mitigation solutions may no longer be feasible to incorporate and coordinating recommendations with other disciplines may be difficult and even regressive in some cases.
Having the acoustical consulting firm review submittals and perform site visits during construction allows for the hard work conducted during design to be fully realized. It is common that we find inadequate equipment and materials when reviewing submittals and identify many construction deficiencies during CA visits, but at least we are there to catch them when given the opportunity.
Including a firm like Metropolitan Acoustics can help ensure that any project achieves the acoustical design intent for the end-user; it is just a matter of giving us the opportunity to provide our insight early in design. When you’re gathering your team around the cornucopia, have an acoustical consultant grab a seat at the table, too.