Acoustical Issues -- New School Construction

Hear -- Listen - Learn - Grow

   Many cities and towns are facing increasing student populations, in older, outdated buildings. In response, new or renovated schools are being planned which integrate the best of current educational programs. The environmental and physical design of the new school should reflect its intended modes of instruction. Oftentimes, a high performing school is organized around small, responsive and supportive group learning settings.

   The educational specifications may wisely recognize the importance of the sense of sound to the learning process. This can be expressed by the need for a high quality acoustical environment in all of the schoolís key instructional areas. Special acoustic requirements that should be considered include sound isolation in the classrooms, adjoining resource rooms and group spaces for each grade level cluster, the noise control and performance space needs of the gym and/or cafetorium, and the instructional and performance functions of music program classrooms.

   Additional considerations may be given to the acoustical quality of meeting spaces, large and small, distributed throughout the school, which can be important resources for group learning activities. These may include small cluster meeting rooms, cluster foyers and the cafetorium. These spaces will be forums for significant student, faculty, family and community events, and the importance of a good acoustical environment for verbal communication is a key issue. Effective speaking and listening in these spaces must be addressed for traditional unamplified speech, as well as for state-of-the-art multimedia presentations.

   Another factor contributing to the general sense of high quality and supportiveness in the school environment must be a consistently low noise level throughout the school. This quality must extend from the classrooms, through the hallways and foyers, and into the cafetorium, gymnasium and library/media center. Careful attention to acoustical issues will be a key element in providing the most effective and successful learning environment possible.

   Brooks Acoustics Corporation would be pleased to be included on the new school design team, and to contribute to such an important and exciting project. We bring many years of experience in acoustical design for school and institutional environments.

   In addition, we at BAC are earnest participants in the latest research and activity on classroom acoustics and its effect on the learning environment. Our principal engineer is a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Working Group which was charged by the US Access Board with developing acoustical design and performance standards for educational spaces. These standard requirements could be included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidelines for schools in the near future. All those with a stake in the school would surely benefit from BACís cutting edge experience in this arena.

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