technology profile – acoustics
Sold on Serenity
Acoustic design is executed to the highest level at this luxury development on Long Island Sound.
By STEVE HAAS and Jerry Bermingham
EVERY HOME IS PRONE TO SOME types of audible disturbances. Be it a neighbor mowing the lawn at the crack of dawn or someone clanging pans in the kitchen during a movie, uncontrollable sound can throw a monkey wrench into our quest for peace and quiet. The issue can become even more problematic for occupants of condos and apartments. Built closely together, the residences of multi-dwelling units (MDUs) can be impacted by noise from nearby neighbors, someone walking across the floor in the condo above, a stereo system from an adjacent unit, or lively conversation in the unit below. There’s also outdoor noise to contend with caused by lawn and maintenance crews, incoming and outgoing traffic, sidewalk conversations (at all hours), weekly trash pickup and more.
When developing a luxury MDU on an exclusive piece of property on Long Island Sound, designed for and catering to the needs of empty nesters, guaranteeing a peaceful, serene and quiet home environment is critical. National Realty & Development Corp. (NRDC) is a real estate development firm that recognizes the value of proper acoustics and is executing it to the highest level in the 72 luxury condos comprising its beachfront WatermarkPointe development.
According to NRDC Executive Vice President Jerry Bermingham, acoustics have always been an important component of its luxury residential business. Here is the story on how Jerry and Steve Haas of SH Acoustics collaborated on the design and integration of the acoustical technology. We begin with the nature of codes and expectations of sound mitigation.
JERRY: There are local and state code acoustical requirements that need to be met, but at WatermarkPointe we wanted to exceed these standards. Every facet of the property, from the private gated entry, indoor parking, and waterfront clubhouse to our elegant three-bedroom condos featuring top-of-the-line interiors and panoramic views evoke comfort and serenity.”
It made sense then that NRDC implement an acoustical design that would mitigate any disturbing noises.
Steve and his team at SH Acoustics were selected for the job based on their long and successful history with our chosen architect, Granoff Architects. After initial discussions, it was clear we needed a comprehensive plan. So we grew the scope from ensuring that footfall noise wouldn’t be an issue to applying solutions to combat other sources of noise. It wasn’t enough for us to simply meet code; we wanted to exceed it and have the assurance that a WatermarkPointe resident would never have to visit a neighbor and ask them to keep it down.
STEVE: After reviewing the architectural plans and discussing options thoroughly with NRDC and Granoff Architects, our firm identified several areas where acoustical engineering would preclude potential problems. We primarily looked at the following: (1) containing footfall and other impact noises that residents could hear from units above, (2) preventing sounds of vehicles in motion, car horns/alarms and other noisy activity in the ground floor parking garage from traveling upward to the occupied units directly above, (3) containing noise occurring in the corridors that separate adjacent units, and (4) quieting HVAC units on the roof. NRDC understood the value of our proposal as it would elevate the luxury status of its development and serve as a key differentiator and selling point to clients.
JERRY: We were targeting empty nesters who want to move out of the city but live close enough to New York City to easily drive in occasionally for dinner, a show, shopping, or to meet with friends and family.
STEVE: Based on our experience and track record, NRDC embraced my team’s recommendations from the onset of the project, which began three years ago. Being brought in during the early design effort allowed us to work very closely with NRDC and the full design team to develop fully coordinated architectural and mechanical details that could be subsequently implemented during the construction phase of the project.
Each of the 72 units received the same level of attention to ensure consistency of design. The goal agreed to by all was not just to achieve minimum building code requirements for acoustic separation, which still tend to not be good enough to avoid audible sound transfer and, hence, owner complaints. Rather a “luxury” standard that commonly strives for 8-10 points higher on the Sound Transmission Class (STC) for airborne sound and Impact Insulation Class (IIC) for impact sound was targeted.
As can be seen from Fig. 1, eight-inch concrete floors extend across each level, upgraded by wood and tile floors that are, in turn, mounted to lightweight GypCrete concrete over AcoustiMat resilient underlayments by Maxxon Corporation. The ceilings below each unit are suspended from Kinetics Noise Control “IsoGrid” hangers to resiliently “float” below the concrete slab.
Walls that separate units from common corridors are upgraded as well with multiple layers of drywall, resilient RSIC clips from PAC International, and acoustical sealant of all perimeter top and bottom conditions, as seen in Fig. 2. Entry doors also are of higher weight and include perimeter acoustic gasketing to ensure that loud events do not readily transmit between units and corridors.
These “sound-containment” construction methods described above minimize both the airborne and impact noise transmission from one unit to another. Additionally, similar details for the garage ceiling and the rooftop ensure noise and vibration from automobile engines and rooftop HVAC units do not disturb the residents of WatermarkPointe, while coastal-rated windows offer protection and acoustic isolation from outdoor noise.
As each of the nine buildings reached substantial completion, our firm conducted testing of both airborne (STC) and impact (IIC) ratings to verify the effectiveness of its acoustical properties. Thus far, we have completed our tests in Buildings #1-5 and have verified that all performance have met or exceeded our target criteria.
JERRY: We wanted to make sure that the design and execution of the plan worked and were thrilled to discover through SH Acoustics’ testing that noise was eliminated.
Although none of the acoustical treatments are immediately obvious to occupants, they know they are there. We’ve included the acoustical enhancements on the list of luxury amenities in sales presentations and literature. Right along with the 30-foot expanse of floor to ceiling windows, the gated entrance and unobstructed views of the water, the peaceful, quiet atmosphere afforded by proper acoustical engineering has helped us quickly sell 62 of 72 available condos, with additional units currently under construction.
When we mention to interested buyers the extra attention given to the acoustics of each condo, we hear a lot of wows. They love the idea of having a home that’s not only beautiful and efficient, but also protected from extraneous noise. They deem it as adding real value to the overall living experience, and our partnership with Steve and his team has made us firm believers in the importance of proper acoustics in a luxury home lifestyle environment.