Just as architects and designers rely on sketches and 3-D renderings to visualize an unbuilt project’s aesthetics, a new auralization experience from CertainTeed can help specifiers design on an auditory level. The CertainTeed Listening Lounge, a virtual demonstration sound modeling tool located at the company’s new headquarters in Malvern, Pa., lets the specifier hear how ceiling design, materials and product specifications can affect the acoustics of a space.

For architects and designers tasked with providing acoustic comfort in their buildings, the Listening Lounge enables the participant to actually hear what a specific design will sound like before it is built.

“Acoustics play a huge part in creating a comfortable environment for all commercial buildings, whether that is for employees, patients, or customers,” said Stan Gatland, manager of Building Sciences and Comfort, CertainTeed Corporation. “The Listening Lounge tests the human listening experience within a defined area before it is even built, allowing specifiers to better understand the materials needed to provide an acoustically sound space. Essentially the participant can click on differing solutions and evaluate their actual perception of the difference each material makes.”


Being a Good Listener

Developed by CertainTeed’s Building Science team in conjunction with architectural acoustics consultants at Acentech in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Listening Lounge was created by isolating an existing collaborative work space within CertainTeed’s headquarters. This technologically-advanced teaching tool will serve as a testing ground for acoustic design and CertainTeed Ceilings product solutions.

The room is completely framed with high-performance Ecophon acoustic wall panels to eliminate outside sounds and internal reverberation and features strategically placed speakers for a 360-degree listening experience. The room is also programmed to model unique situations occupants might encounter in various areas within a open office environment. The lounge’s design also ensures that the origin of sounds are accurately represented.

But the physical design of the Listening Lounge plays only a small part in assisting to achieve acoustic success of a future space. Through the use of forward-thinking technology, designers can also preview the impact of interior finishes, audio systems, sound isolation and even the introduction of an electronic speech privacy system (sound masking).

Among the most notable of noise variable capabilities, room acoustics can be adjusted to demonstrate the impact of various noise reduction coefficient (NRC) and ceiling attenuation class (CAC) levels. These differing acoustic metrics are applied not only to the open office model, but also a conference room, a large cafeteria being used for a typical noisy lunch crowd, and as an auditorium for a public speaker.


Listen While You Work

“According to Amplitude Research, Inc., 65 percent of workers are distracted by too much noise at work,” said Gatland. “For someone sitting at a work station within an open plan setting, general office conversations can create a noticeable distraction. People’s response to the simulated performance of different solutions experienced within the Listening Lounge will help CertainTeed’s teams develop new solutions that will benefit architects and occupants for decades to come.”

A beta form of the Listening Lounge was unveiled earlier this year to American Institute of Architects (AIA) members who toured the new Malvern headquarters during the AIA annual national convention, hosted in nearby Philadelphia.

The building, dubbed a “Living Laboratory,” features more than 50 products from CertainTeed and parent company Saint Gobain’s portfolio, installed across more than 277,000 square feet; of which 119,000 square feet is open office space and 116 collaborative spaces, including a cafeteria and fitness center. The “Living Laboratory” concept allows employees to live with their products as occupants so they can improve them as experts. To learn more about how a building’s acoustics impact the well-being, happiness and productivity of its occupants, visit www.certainteed.com/listeninglounge.

Offering acoustical ceiling and wall solutions that make commercial spaces sound, healthy, sustainable and beautiful, CertainTeed Ceilings has long served the North American building industry and is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, the world’s leading producer of building products. CertainTeed and its sister brands Ecophon and Decoustics are committed to helping architects, designers and contractors improve the lives of building occupants everywhere.