Quiet, Please!

Four innovative acoustic ceiling products—including one made of wheat straw and another of recycled polyester fiber—are generating a lot of buzz.

August 11, 2010

Today's Building Teams are being asked to address the issue of interior noise, a problem afflicting a cross-section of projects: restaurants, classrooms, performance spaces, office environments. Everyone, it seems, is looking for a way to keep things quiet.

With that in mind, Building Design & Construction quietly turned to one of our 40 Under 40 winners (see March 2006), Blaine Brownell of NBBJ Architects, Seattle, and asked him about the most innovative acoustic ceiling products he's recently come across. Brownell makes it a priority to track down and report on the newest products from around the world, findings he writes about in a weekly products e-newsletter and recently compiled in a new book: Transmaterial: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Physical Environment (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006).

The four acoustic ceiling products featured here are the ones to use if you're looking for innovative ways to turn down the volume on interior noise.

1. Durra Building Systems manufactures engineered acoustic wall, roof, and ceiling systems for venues such as theaters, airports, convention centers, and other spaces that have high acoustic demands.

The Durra Acoustic Panel, which is made of wheat straw and recycled paper, eliminates the need for multiple drywall layers. Because of its structural rigidity, it needs only half the studs used with conventional wall systems.

The Durra Roofing System combines the roof with the finished ceiling and is constructed on the ground in sections of 1,000 sf and lifted into place; each section installs in about two hours.

Contents: Compressed wheat straw, recycled paper, and roll-formed steel

Applications: Walls, ceilings, roofs

Types/sizes: 4×8-foot panels, two inches thick; custom sizes are available

Input No. 260 at BDCnetwork.com/quickResponse

2. Pepp acoustical products are made with Arpro, an expanded polypropylene bead foam, and are useful in acoustic treatments for conference rooms, environmentally sensitive areas, performances spaces, classrooms, and natatoriums. The panels are lightweight; structurally rigid; and resistant to fire, water, bacteria, oils, grease, and most chemicals. Pepp panels can be cleaned using a power washer.

Pepp is available in charcoal or white and can also be painted. The one-inch-thick panels provide an NRC rating of 0.55; two-inch-thick panels have an NRC rating of 0.70.

Contents: 100% polypropylene

Applications: Acoustic treatment for interior vertical surfaces and ceilings

Types/sizes: 2 × 4-foot panels

Input No. 261 at BDCnetwork.com/quickResponse

3. Soundwave panels were designed by Sweden's Teppo Asikainen to help control sound levels in busy interiors. Made from recycled, molded polyester fiber (the same material used in the auto industry to reduce noise levels in car interiors), the panel's undulating wave form and its felt-like material reduce noise levels by absorbing or diffusing sound.

The company's Swell and Scrunch panels are lightweight sound absorbers that work in the upper frequency range (500 Hz and above). The Luna panel is a Class A broadband absorber with extended efficiency in the low-frequency range (150 to 500Hz) and is efficient in reducing background noise. The Diffuser panel doesn't absorb sound, but rather diffuses it in order to improve speech intelligibility.

Contents: Polyester fiber, felt, PET

Applications: Acoustic treatment for interior vertical surfaces and ceilings

Types/sizes: 22.8×22.8 inches, 3.1 inches thick

Input No. 262 at BDCnetwork.com/quickResponse

4. Varia panels by 3form are comprised of decorative interlays encapsulated within 100% ecoresin. As its name implies, the design choices for Varia panels are varied: the company allows custom selection of color, pattern, texture, interlayer, and material finish. Ecoresin is the primary binding agent, developed exclusively by 3form with partners Bayer and Eastman Corp. to be an environmentally sensitive composite commonly identified as co-polyester.

Contents: Ecoresin, interlayers (fabrics, paper, organics, etc.)

Applications: Wall panels, work surfaces, decorative treatments, ceiling panels, acoustic panels

Types/sizes: 4×8-foot and 4×10-foot panels, 1/16 to 1 inch in thickness

Input No. 263 at BDCnetwork.com/quickResponse