Page 62 - Winter 2020
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Social Gathering Spaces as Part of the Twenty-First-Century Library Twenty-first-century libraries may also include large,
social spaces with coffee shops, small restaurants, and dining spaces where informal discussions, social interaction with others, and individual study in a more relaxed atmosphere can occur. When these spaces are designed as atria, with high ceilings that are open at several levels to reading areas, stacks, and other spaces, sounds such as the barista making a latte or a conversation among a study group can propagate from the coffee shop on the ground floor up one or more stories into reading or study areas that are physically separated but sonically connected to the space below. Sometimes this sonic flow is viewed positively by staff and users and sometimes it is not. The sonic demarcation of this duality of perception of acoustic rooms within a larger space is an interesting topic for future research. If sound-absorbent finishes have not been integrated with the architectural design of the café or social/dining space, users may find the space to be too loud for even casual dining, reading, and socializing due to the large volume and sound-reflective surfaces.
Addition of Advanced Technology and
Media Laboratories
The conversion of a 1970s library to a twenty-first-century library in the downtown area of a large city included the addition of an advanced technology center to the existing library. This included collaborative work areas; digital fabrication and hands-on spaces; and a complete semiprofessional audio recording studio, control room, isolation booth, video recording, and control along with editing bays to encourage use of the library by groups of people who might not otherwise use the facility. You could bring your garage band to the library and cut your digital recording in a studio and control room with state- of-the-art equipment.
The rooms were designed and built without professional acoustical consultants on the design team. As a result, there were significant sound bleed issues between the audio and video studios and the main reading room. Sounds from the maker space also entered the adjacent video recording space and audio recording spaces across the hall.
There were no sound locks at the entries to the studios, just weather-stripping “acoustical” seals on the doors, open transfer ducts between spaces for return air, unsealed penetrations for pipes and conduits, and walls that did not provide adequate sound reduction so that sounds from studio sessions poured out into the main space and the video studio and vice versa. Needless to say, there was a lot of work to sonically renovate the renovation.
Consciously Designing the Soundscape of the Twenty-First-Century Library
The acoustical design of a consciously designed soundscape in a building with a complex program with multiple uses and types (taxonomy) of sounds should ideally begin with the initial architectural ideas for the building, at the inspiration and planning stages of design, so that sonic concepts are seamlessly integrated with the emerging architectural concepts and budgets for the spaces. A case study is used to illustrate the process of integrated soundscape and architectural design in a twenty-first-century library. This is based on the library of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL (see
The large central space of the library explodes three- dimensionally to organize the building (Figure 4). It is an active, engaging space intended for social interaction and orientation of people to the many activities in the building. Acoustical finish materials were integrated at each of the three levels of the space that is centered around a monumental stair to organize circulation and wayfinding as well as to control the propagation of sounds from one floor to another. A sonic niche was created for the main service desk that is located just off this space with a lower ceiling, and acoustical finishes added to reduce the propagation of sounds to staff at the desk and to allow for intelligible communication between students and staff at this important location (Figure 5).
The coffee shop in the library was also designed as a sonic niche for active conversations by locating it in an area off the main entry space where it is visible, but where the ceiling height decreases, acoustical finishes are used, and the baristas are set back from the atrium organizing space to reduce the propagation of sounds through the main room volume.
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