Lowe Campbell Ewald – Concrete. Collaboration. When Lowe Campbell Ewald (LCE) returned to Detroit, they wanted a fresh start but also wanted to be grounded in their roots. The LCE space, located at Ford Field, is the epitome of current trends in design. Hard surfaces with an interactive layout flourished in the design.
Joel Smith, head of Neumann/Smith Architecture, took on the challenge of building out the unfinished floors for the 500 employees of LCE. Smith states, “We had 122,000 square feet on five floors. It needed to be a signature space while balancing over 100 collaborative areas with individual work.” Idea-inspiring atmosphere was the theme for the marketing communications agency.
Smith wanted to maintain the historic, industrial warehouse architecture while integrating sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood, recycled palettes, concrete and even brass print plates used in the 1950s through the 1980s. But he knew that noise would be a challenge.
Joe Fisher, Facility Manager, Lowe Campbell Ewald, stated, “Moving to an open environment was a major change for our employees, and we knew acoustical design would be key to a successful transition. Employee comfort was a critical factor in the transition to the new space
LCE installed Lencore’s i.NET system throughout all five floors. In a few areas, such as executive conference rooms and offices, they integrated the solid drive speaker technology, which turns hard surfaces – such as drywall or glass, into a speaker producing the frequencies necessary to mask speech. Smith left a final thought, “With an acoustically harsh environment with all of the hard materials used, the use of Lencore’s sound masking solution helped us complete the space to allow collaborative activity to coexist with individual work in a comfortable and productive workplace.”
Lencore’s masking system provided that needed privacy and comfortable sound LCE was seeking. “It was their comfortable sound that was key.” Smith left a final thought, “With an acoustically harsh environment with all of the hard materials used, the use of Lencore’s sound masking solution helped us complete the space to allow collaborative activity to coexist with individual work in a comfortable and productive workplace
Sound and Productivity According to an ASID study produced with Bullock Associates;
“A series of studies conducted over the past 12 years has convincingly documented that conversational distraction and uncontrolled noise is the primary cause of productivity loss within offices. More than 80% of the workers believed they would be more productive if their workspace provided more acoustical privacy.”
This issue continues to be exacerbated through the promotion of community engagement in open office design as well as partition height reduction (typically a cost saving approach) to 53 inches – the minimum height for effectively blocking or absorbing noise. But office space that is too quiet is unproductive as well. The goal of office design is to enhance productivity while creating employee comfort. Background sound masking can provide proper noise levels to achieve these goals.