In keeping with the water-based mission of the facility, the design team at Gould Evans Architects in New Orleans created a “river” that snakes its way through the facility’s ceiling. It did so by creating a separation between the center’s suspended drywall ceiling and its acoustical ceiling. Light coves around the perimeter of both ceilings function as the “river’s” banks.

Original construction plans called for the light coves to be built of drywall. However, Keith Yeager, acoustical contractor of Dixie Acoustical in Montgomery, Ala., believed this would be extremely time-consuming and difficult. “In terms of time, studs and drywall would take forever,” he says, “because of the need to frame it, hang it, tape it and sand it.”

“Considering the extremely curved nature of the coves, it also would have been almost impossible not to have cracks or flat spots in the drywall, especially since the radius changed every few feet,” says Yeager.

More than 1,000 feet of Light Coves Installed

To solve the problem, Yeager designed coves using Axiom aluminum perimeter trim from Armstrong. He then presented his designs to Armstrong to determine if they were feasible, and they were, even though all the trim had to be custom made because of the complexity of the curves.

Three different sized light coves—6, 12 and 18 inch—were required depending on location. All of the coves consisted of multiple components. The most complex was the 18-inch cove which required five elements—a 12-inch piece of vertical trim to which a 6-inch piece of trim was attached, a 4-inch piece of horizontal trim, another 6-inch piece to form the upturn, and a small wall angle to create a lip on which the horizontal trim could sit. In total, 400 feet of 18-inch coves were installed, 480 feet of 12-inch coves, and 250 feet of 6-inch coves.

To make the job easier and faster, each section of cove was given a letter and each of its components, a number. Armstrong then packaged each section and its pieces in a separate crate. “When you have to attach so many custom-made components to each other, it helped to have all the pieces in the same package,” Yeager explains. A total of 22 crates were shipped.

Installation Completed in Half the Time

Another challenge was layout. “To make sure we hit our spots, 85 percent of the job was laid out on the floor before installation began,” Yeager states. “For each section, we placed a protective sheet of paper on the floor and traced a cove’s construction.

A dot laser was then used to mark corresponding spots on the ceiling.” The firm budgeted two weeks of time just for layout of the “river.”

Once installation began, job superintendent, Tim Thomas, notes construction of the coves using the Axiom trim was accomplished in half the time as drywall. “We probably saved two months in time,” he says. “And, there are no cracks or flat spots.”