The Design and Construction process is the life’s blood of FM Design Ltd. In addition to the detailed construction plans and specifications that are the result of the design cycle, we provide assistance during the bidding process, through the final selection of the projects General Construction Contractor.
During the construction phase, we provide ongoing review. This includes visits to the construction site to review and comment on the progress of the construction as well as approval of any submittals supplied by the contractor(s). We are not done until the studio construction is complete, the rooms are tuned and the facility is operational.
Typically, the Structured Design Process for technical facilities includes the following steps:
1) Program Development: We work with the client in the development of the program requirements for the renovations. This phase will include interviewing of the room operators and finalizing space requirements, equipment layout and other ergonomic concerns.
2) Site Survey: We will visit the site to measure the proposed location for the facility and produce a complete as-built drawing representing the existing conditions, to serve as the base plan for future design work.
3) Schematic Design: Based on an approved Program, we will produce a set of single line drawings representing possible architectural and technical solutions to the program requirements. These sketches, once approved, serve as the basis for the plan documents.
4) Design Development: A complete design concept will be presented including a description of the technical issues involved in the construction, through suggested groupings of finish materials. During this phase acoustic isolation performance and acoustic treatment style are also finalized.
5) Construction Documents: We will produce a complete set of large format scaled architectural drawings to be used to bid and build the facility. Extensive detailing will be included. Typically the plan set will include: As Built & Demo Plan, Raised (or Floating) Platform Plan, Floor Plan, Electrical Plan, Finish Plan, Sections, Elevations, Reflected Ceiling & Lighting Plan, Soffit Framing Plan, Mechanical Schematic, and Construction Details as deemed necessary by our office for the successful completion of the construction. We will also provide complete specifications for all products called out in the plans in the form of manufacturer’s cut sheets and installation notes.
6) Bidding and Contractor Qualification: FM Design will assist the client in the review of bids provided by qualified general contractors. We can also provide assistance and recommendation in the pre-qualification of general contractors.
6) Construction Review: During construction we will provide sight visits, as required by the phase of the work, to review the progress and quality of the construction. At a point of significant completion, we will prepare a punch list of items that are incomplete or unsatisfactory to be presented to the general contractor.
7) Tuning and Testing: Once the construction is complete, we will be available to assist in the tuning of the main audio monitor system(s) including adjustment of any electronic crossovers or equalization, and documentation of final room response.
The short story as far as designing for acoustic isolation is, Mass and Air Space. These are the two basic ingredients of successful acoustic isolation. Both are also basic construction commodities. Mass equals more (and sometimes special) building materials, and Air Space equals less square footage left for the inside of the rooms when it’s all finished.
Applications requiring higher amounts of low frequency isolation also require structural decoupling; the “floating room” solution. Floating rooms are expensive to build, be it a spring floated concrete slab, or a resilient pad isolated framed floor and stud wall system. If not properly loaded, the isolators will not work at optimum efficiency. Understanding the dynamics of structural isolations systems, as well as how to calculate actual live and dead loads in order to assure the proper types and amounts of isolation materials are used, is important for the success of any floating room.
A wise colleague of mine once told me: “Isolation construction is all in the details.” and how true it is. The more details that FM Design provides for the contractors, the fewer chances there are of a mistake in the isolation construction. Detailing of designs is very important at FM Design. The level of construction detailing in our plans is very high. This applies not only to the basic isolation construction but all the way through to the finishes.
The FM Design approach to interior acoustics is very simple. A typical Control Room design will start with the most basic of interior acoustic design criteria; good room proportions. In order to provide an even distribution in the low frequency modal characteristics of any room, the proportions have to be within an accepted range.
Room geometry is the second aspect we are concerned with. A basic reflection steering design that results in a listening area relatively free of first order reflections is our primary concern. There is no one shape that works best. Each site is different and each project has unique needs that must be addressed.
The acoustic finishes are the third area of the interior design. This is the visually fun part, and also the part where the budget can vary quite a bit. The “FM Design” approach to Control Room acoustic finishes is very real world. We believe that the ability to translate what is heard in the control room, to other, less acoustically treated spaces is most important. Good acoustic performance, project budget and visual appeal must all be considered when specifying the finishes.
Fit and Finish…
The level and quality of finishing is an area we are specially attuned to. What good is a space that has good isolation, and functions well acoustically, if it doesn’t make your clients comfortable and eager to work there for extended periods? We are sensitive to the visual design goals of the client, and try and incorporate their image into a design that meets the projects’ budget and time frame constraints. Another wise colleague once told me: “Anything’s possible. It just costs money.” Words I have repeated time and time again.