Vertical Innovation

Creativity and resilience go hand in hand with innovative wall panels that revolutionize the building landscape. Building science is bringing fire rating, abuse resistance, and acoustic control together in a number of ways, broadening the selection of wall panel choices in commercial and institutional applications.

The gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster, PA is in use every day, not only for sports activities, but for a variety of other functions as well. Its acoustic environment, however, was not always ideal. Acoustical testing showed reverberation time in the gym was 5.05 seconds, far above the 2.00 seconds or less recommended for this type of space. As Karen Schloer, the Club’s chief executive officer, said, “The noise level was putting a real strain on the staff because they had to shout so often when trying to communicate with the kids.”

To solve the problem, Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions installed more than 3,500 square feet of Tectum® Direct-Attach wall panels on the gym’s masonry walls. The panels were chosen because of their ability to absorb both sound and
the impact of basketballs, volleyballs, and other objects that hit the walls.

Aesthetically, the two-inch-thick, 2- x 4-foot panels are installed in ribbons of white and a custom blue that match the Club’s colours. They start nearly 10 feet off the floor and continue up the wall another 18 feet. In addition, a re-creation of the Boys & Girls Club logo is installed at each end of the gym. The 15-feet-wide and 13-feet-high visual of two interlocking hands was created using 8-inch triangular Tectum Panel Art shapes. The white triangles are one inch thick, while the blue triangles are two inches thick so that they stand out from the wall.

Two rows of 12 SoundSoak® Baffles were installed in the center of the ceiling for added noise absorption. Acoustically, the 2-inch Direct-Attach Tectum wall panels have a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of 0.70. Acoustical testing conducted after the installation of the combination acoustical treatment showed that reverberation time dropped to 1.85 seconds, a 63% reduction.

According to chief operations officer, Scott McLellan, the difference is “like night and day. The biggest takeaway is how much easier it is now for the staff to gain control of the space because the kids can hear directions much more clearly.”

Looking back at the difference in the gym’s acoustic comfort, McLellan adds, “The staff simply didn’t realize how bad it was because they didn’t realize how good it could be.”

CGC Inc. helped the University of BC tackle the world’s tallest mass timber building at the Point Grey campus with 1.1 million square feet of Sheetrock UltraLight Panels Firecode® X. Brock Commons, a student residence, is 174 feet tall. Designing a timber building was purposeful, as the material is sustainable and versatile; it stores – rather than emits – carbon dioxide for the life of the structure and beyond when wood fiber is recycled or reclaimed. The building was designed to achieve a minimum LEEDTM Gold certification.

By using the CGC panels, Brock Commons met the one- and two-hour fire ratings required for this type of wood structure. The cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam components used in the project have been enhanced through complete encapsulation, with three- to four-layers of the fire-rated panels, dependent on location. Additional safety measures of the structure include a series of repetitive, highly compartmentalized small rooms to help contain flame spread in the event of a fire, as well as a backup water and emergency power supply so the sprinkler system will function even if the building loses its standard power and electrical supply.

Brock Commons also contains a building monitoring system and an upgraded concrete and steel core that’s protected by 25,000 sq. ft. of Sheetrock® Glass-Mat Liner Panels. It’s also the first building in British Columbia to be specified to the new 2015 National Building Code of Canada for seismic design.

Aside from its primary function as a student residence, the building will also serve as an academic research site for students and researchers, who study and monitor its operations. Brock Commons serves as an exceptional place for students to live, work and play, while simultaneously bettering the environment as a result of its sustainable characteristics.