Oklahoma’s Noble Public School’s fine arts auditorium and gymnasium serves 2860 students in its district. With a playful nod to the school’s bear mascot, the facility was dubbed ‘the Den’ and opened for the 2019-20 academic year. Aluminum ceiling panels were utilized to meet the design, budget, and acoustical goals of the multipurpose space.
The old auditorium was built in 1950 and seated less than 400 people, which required the school district to outsource some of their fine arts programs to other locations. Similarly, the former high school gym was not large enough to host competitive tournaments. Investing in facility improvements across the school district, a 2017 bond allocated more than half of its total to fund the Den’s $19-million design and construction.
Respecting the district’s goals and budget, TAP Architecture envisioned a multipurpose, two-story, 4645-m2 (50,000-sf), single structure. It was considered an economical option compared to building separate facilities for a performing arts center and a basketball gym.
Optimizing acoustics for the wide range of activities planned within the auditorium required thoughtful design and high-performance materials. Forming the 17 clouds above the performing arts’ audience seating area, lay-in aluminum ceiling panels were acoustically improved with a backer. This solution provides the absorption required for speech intelligibility and to make band music clear and comfortable to hear.
Complementing the ceiling clouds’ high performance, their cherry woodgrain finish presents a refined aesthetic with durability. Sturdy, extruded aluminum perimeter trim is finished to match in cherry, neatly framing the ceiling clouds.
The metal ceiling panels can achieve up to 0.90 noise reduction coefficient (NRC), and stone wool can meet specifications of 0.95 NRC and higher. This high level of sound absorption decreases reverberation and improves speech intelligibility for group communication. Using ceiling products with higher NRC ratings also can help with cost savings because fewer sound-absorbing products need to be installed to reach the goal amount of absorption in the room.
Reviewing the many variables, building materials, and interior finishes, the project’s design progressed through 2018. In January 2019, the selected ceiling systems were shipped to Oklahoma. Lasco Acoustics & Drywall, Inc., installed nearly 975 m2 (10,500 sf) of acoustic stone wool; more than 288 m2 (3100 sf) of metal ceiling panels; plus 887 linear feet of metal perimeter trim.
Minimizing maintenance, the metal and stone wool ceiling systems are simple to clean. They also resist moisture, mold, and other microorganisms. All of the stone wool panels installed in the Den are GreenGuard Gold certified for low-emissivity (low-e) products. Products earning this certification are recognized by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools and other organizations as supporting healthy indoor air quality (IAQ).
Above the common areas on the upper level, an additional 23 ceiling clouds are composed with acoustic stone wool panels and perimeter trim finished in silver satin. Immediately surrounding the stage, stone wool panels were installed within Chicago metallic exposed acoustical suspension system. The stone wool panels were also used on the lower level’s offices, lounge, hallways, and gym locker rooms.
The Den’s new gym more than doubles the capacity of the former space. Configured as a basketball court, approximately 1500 people can be seated in the new venue.