As the gateway to the east end and academic core of Rowan University’s Glassboro, N.J., campus, the new Discovery Hall offers expanded space to meet growing enrollment in the School of Earth & Environment and the College of Science & Mathematics.

Opened in September 2021, the 68,000-square-foot academic and research building provides a holistic learning environment for students pursuing in-demand careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Ceiling systems are featured as a way to control the new building’s acoustics.
Ceiling systems are featured as a way to control the new building’s acoustics.
Ceiling systems are featured as a way to control the new building’s acoustics.

Choosing a Ceiling System

In designing Discovery Hall, KSS Architects LLP selected a ceiling system to provide a biophilic wood-look design with sound-absorbing, moisture-resistant, fire-resistant and sustainable performance.

“We researched metal ceilings that had the wood look we wanted and could provide the acoustic control we needed,” said KSS Architects’ associate Beth Emig, R.A., LEED AP BD+C, AIA. After careful review, she chose metal ceiling panels with Maple Metalwood Woodgrain finishes.

To optimize acoustics, a Noise Reduction Coefficient of 0.70 was specified to absorb sound in student collaboration areas while still providing an energetic atmosphere. To achieve these performance requirements, an acoustical insulation backing was added to the metal ceiling panels. The panels’ sound absorption was further enhanced with a small-diameter perforation pattern.

“From the floor looking up, you don’t notice the perforations,” Emig says. “The finish color is a good match. It came out really well. The result is a ceiling system with an elevated look, executed to meet the university’s needs, and will be easy to work with throughout the building’s life.”

Durability and maintenance also were key to the university’s facilities team. The metal ceilings are resistant to moisture, humidity and sagging. The linear planks can be removed individually if updates are needed to equipment or other systems concealed in the plenum above the panels.

Supporting sustainable goals, some metal ceiling systems are manufactured with up to 85 percent recycled content and are 100 percent locally recyclable. Environmental Product Declarations and additional documentation are available to assist design and facilities teams in evaluating and specifying Rockfon’s comprehensive product offering.

Rowan University, Discovery Hall, Glassboro, N.J.

Owner: Rowan University; Glassboro, N.J.;
Project Developer: Gloucester County Improvement Authority; Clarksboro, N.J.;
Project Planning and Development: Rowan University – Division of Facilities, Planning & Operations; Glassboro, N.J.; Architect and Interior Designer: KSS Architects LLP; Princeton, N.J.;
General Contractor: Terminal Construction Corporation; Wood-Ridge, N.J.;
Construction Manager: New Road Construction Management Co. Inc.; Cherry Hill, N.J.;
Ceiling Systems – Installing Contractor: Bigelow Brothers Inc.; Haddon Heights, N.J.
Ceiling Systems – Distributor: Freedom Materials LLC; Newark, Dela.;
Ceilings Manufacturer: Rockfon; Chicago;
Photographer: Todd Mason, ©Halkin Mason Photography LLC
Video Tour:

Installing Ceiling Systems

A total of 21,000 square feet of a square edge, linear metal ceiling systems were installed by Bigelow Brothers Inc. Air supply and return grills, smoke detectors and sprinklers, wireless access point hardware, occupancy sensors and energy-efficient light fixtures were incorporated into the completed ceilings.

Discovery Hall’s floor plan unites a four-story west section and a two-story east section with a first-floor lobby and second-story lounge. In these common areas, main corridors and student collaboration spaces, the metal ceilings feature the woodgrain appearance.

On the first, third and fourth floors, the metal ceiling panels align in parallel running the entire length of the building. On the second level, the largest hallway ceiling span runs 200 feet long. Where collaboration spaces meet and merge with the second-floor corridor, white-finished metal ceiling panels intersect to form contrasting perpendicular patterns.

Rowan University’s Discovery Hall includes 12 classrooms, student collaboration space, two conference rooms, faculty offices and research labs, and six teaching laboratories. Specialty labs serve geology, paleontology, environmental science, computational research and molecular paleontology, one of just two research spaces in the nation dedicated to the study of ancient proteins in fossils.