Case Histories

ACOUSTIC PANELS: Foam panels provide noise solution

With 12-foot walls, concrete ceiling beams, tile floors and drywall creating an echo effect in classrooms, officials at the Shir Hadash Religious School, Los Gatos, Calif., looked to illbruck for help with acoustics. The school experimented by installing acoustic panels made of willtec foam in one classroom and was satisfied with the result.

“Before we installed the panels, the classroom sounded like a warehouse,” says Sherri Geeser, principal. “It was hard enough to hear if only one person was speaking; during a group discussion it was impossible to hear.”

The foam panels, installed on the ceiling between concrete beams, reduce reverberation and noise that interfere with sound quality and speech comprehension. The panels are installed with PA-02 adhesive, and acoustic panels in willtec foam are Class 1 fire-rated for flame spread and smoke density. In addition, the panels' flat white finish blends with the room's decor.

“After we installed the panels, the classrooms became livable — and learnable,” says Geeser. “Now students have a classroom that helps rather than hinders learning.”

SKYLIGHT: Pyramid skylight defines play area, fills school with light

In California, the total space required for a traditional preschool is 9,900 square feet. Due to the scarcity of available real estate, LaMarina Preschool, Manhattan Beach, was built on an undersized lot. Creative planning allowed the architects to put a play area on top of the school. Access to the play area is through grassy terraces and a ramp. Solid geometric forms contrast the blandness of the stucco and concrete-block building around the perimeter of the school. The focus of the yard, however, is a translucent pyramidal skylight from Kalwall.

The skylight is durable and shatterproof. Because of the structural integrity and high load capacity, guardrails are not needed. In addition, the system can be walked on safely. The skylight acts as one of the simple shapes that fill the yard, but inside, the translucent panels fill the interior with balanced, natural daylight. In this structure, the light transmission is 15 percent, eliminating harsh glare, hot spots and shadows. Harmful ultraviolet rays also are filtered out.

The system is a structural-composite sandwich panel formed by permanently bonding specially formulated fiberglass-reinforced translucent faces to a grid core constructed of interlocked, structural I-beams. The skylight also has an insulating quality that lets in the light, but not the heat. The translucent panels are laminated under a controlled process of heat and pressure. During this process, the panels can be filled with various densities of insulation.

AIR CONDITIONING RETROFIT: Added A/C and air distribution system eliminate gym downtime

During the hot summer months, the 65-year-old North Gym at Sacramento City College, Calif., could not be used. Since the installation of a cost-efficient air-conditioning system and fabric-duct air distribution, however, the gym can be open all year.

Installing several tons of metal duct would have necessitated a two-week closing of the gym. Therefore, college officials took the suggestion of Al Heitz, a former president of his own engineering consultant firm, and agreed to the use of a fabric-duct air distribution system from FabricAir that would only take a couple of days to install.

The contractors, with no previous experience with the fabric-duct system, spent only two days anchoring the track system to the gym's 25-foot ceiling and one day for duct installation.

Rooftop load-bearing was not an issue because fabric duct weighs 90 percent less than metal duct. The fabric duct also saved the college an estimated 40 percent in materials, fabrication and labor.

Fabric duct also is providing the 12,000-square-foot gym with even air distribution. The project included two linear diffusers running the length of the duct to provide additional air conditioning to the 1,000-seat spectator area and playing floor. Two 15,000-cfm air handlers, placed on an adjacent sub-roof outside the gym's ceiling-level windows are connected to an interior metal plenum that supplies large, 26-inch round trunk lines of fabric duct.

Return air is handled with one large grill located high on each end of the facility. The grills are sized proportionally to 50 percent of the supply air.

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