Sound Transit is the provider of light rail, commuter rail and bus service in the Central Puget Sound area. As Sound Transit expands the network of service, accompanying supporting infrastructure is required.

The Sound Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility East Buildings are a new light rail operations and maintenance facility that accommodates the inspection, service, maintenance, storage, and deployment of 96 light rail vehicles on the east side of Lake Washington. This 165,000 square foot facility includes 30,000 square feet of suspended acoustical ceilings.

The need to install the suspended acoustical ceilings in compliance with the current seismic bracing code requirements led Acoustical Design Inc. to use the GRIDLOK seismic bracing solution that has an ICC-ESR Evaluation Report for the installation of seismic bracing pods. The ICC-ESR Evaluation Report provides an easy method to provide “deferred submittal” information to gain approval of the seismic restraint system of the suspended acoustical ceilings.

Kip Cramer of Acoustical Design Inc., the acoustical ceiling installation contractor on this project, choose the GRIDLOK seismic bracing system for the ease of approval using the ICC-ESR report, and to take advantage of using 2 rigid diagonal struts in lieu of the traditional 4 wire diagonal brace. These diagonal struts allowed for easier installation in the congested plenum of the project.

GRIDLOK was developed in highly seismic active New Zealand and is now installed in almost every new building in New Zealand. The GRIDLOK system has been rigorously tested in New Zealand and in the United States and has ICC-ESR certification and California OSHPD OPM (preapproval) certification for use in Hospitals.

The Cities of Seattle and Bellevue have reviewed the GRIDLOK system and the ICC-ESR reports.

Bryce Hodgson, President of Plenum Inc, GRIDLOK and BRACELOK’s North American distributor, said “The installation of the product at Sound Transit is a good example of a contractor led initiative in bringing these solutions into the Pacific Northwest.

We have had significant adoption in many States since we entered the US market, just as COVID was impacting the industry, after having previously firmly established the product in New Zealand and Australia.

We regard Kip Kramer and his team at Acoustical Design as exactly the right type of partner to bring innovative solutions into this market. They have been in business for many years, have a sterling reputation, and stay at the forefront of innovation by recognizing that their competitors have often been slow to change their practices” said Hodgson.

In many cases improvements in seismic practice only come about because of a major earthquake, which is how the BRACELOK partition wall solution, and the GRIDLOK suspended ceiling solutions came into existence.

After the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, where 185 lives were lost, there was a recognition that traditional wire and post installations were inadequate for bracing ceilings in high seismic zones. Now any heavy-duty grid from Armstrong, CertainTeed or USG can now be used with GRIDLOK knowing that they have both ICC-ESR and OSHPD OPM pre-approvals.

The General Contractor for Sound Transit was Hensel Phelps, a National Construction Company with its Headquarters in Colorado. The full contract for this project had an award amount of approximately $219 million. 

The Sound Transit network has plans to expand their light rail system which will more than double in size and the light rail fleet will more than triple from 62 to 214 vehicles. 


Project: Sound Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility East

Location: Bellevue Washington

General Contractor: Hensel Phelps

Specialty Contractor: Acoustical Design Inc

Product: GRIDLOK Ceiling Bracing