Housed in a recently renovated space in a midtown office building, the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County provides civil, criminal, health, and social services for victims of family violence all under one roof. To reduce stress in the environment for their clients, reverberation and overall noise levels in the Center’s lobby was a key consideration.
To create the acoustic environment the design team desired, 30 SOUNDSCAPES Blades were suspended from the deck. Each of the linear blades was 46" long, 10" tall, and 2" thick. Five parallel rows, each containing six blades in a series, were spaced approximately three feet on center. The reverberation time in the space was reduced about 45% and the ambient background noise was decreased by 0.5 db since sound is absorbed on the front, back, and sides of each blade.
Architect Matt Seltzer explains that the Center’s waiting room previously had a suspended ceiling, but it was very low and blocked the entry of natural light into the space. In order to open the space up and harvest the daylight, the ceiling was removed, resulting in an exposed structure space.
The noise-absorbing properties of the blades were a key factor to their use in the newly renovated space. However, Seltzer notes their horizontal design was also important. “Traditional baffles, which are usually vertical in shape and used in taller spaces, would have cut down on the volume of the room and also blocked much of the light coming through the windows,” he says.
“Use of the low profile, linear blades was far less intrusive and allowed us to preserve the height of the room. In addition, their white finish has a very high light reflectance, which helps extend natural light into the room.”
He also notes that the blades help define the small waiting area within the much larger open space. “The location of the blades makes it quite clear where the waiting area is compared to the circulation areas,” he says.