Autodesk, Inc., is the industry leader for 3D design and engineering software for architecture engineering, construction, manufacturing, and media entertainment applications. When designing the new headquarters for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Division, Autodesk required an environment that encouraged team collaboration while also representing the company’s history of innovation. With this in mind, the headquarters features open layout office areas with high, open ceilings, short glass workstation barriers, and large windows. Adjacent to the cubicles are a variety of conference rooms and private offices with frosted glass walls and smooth concrete flooring.
As Autodesk designed their new space, the team anticipated that the inclusion of so many reflective surfaces in the design would pose acoustical issues. Additionally, while the cubicle partitions are aesthetically pleasing, they do little to block sound from travelling throughout the open office layout. Another challenge for the design team was to ensure that both the core and shell of the new facility, as well as the interior space, was LEED certified. Autodesk needed a solution for their internal acoustical challenges that was energy efficient to help achieve this goal.
Sound masking was recommended during the design process to address issues resulting from the many hard reflective surfaces critical to the aesthetic design. Autodesk needed their solution to be simple to manage, flexible to use, and easily customizable. Biamp’s Cambridge sound masking system proved to be the most adept at solving Autodesk’s challenges.
Each floor of the headquarters is equipped with its own sound masking module, separating each floor of the facility into six distinct zones and allowing for appropriate audio levels in each space. Emitters were installed onto the exposed beams of the open office areas and mounted directly into drywall or acoustic tile in the main corridors and areas surrounding the conference rooms. Each of the eighteen total zones has a different decibel level requirement.
Employees entering were unaware that sound masking was deployed in the space. After three months of use, the facilities managers wanted to see if anyone would notice if the system was turned off. Upon doing so, the facilities staff immediately received a number of complaints regarding noise distractions.
Autodesk’s new headquarters also received a Gold rating for LEED Core and Shell Development and the coveted Platinum rating for LEED Commercial Interior. While several factors contribute to LEED Commercial Interior certification, the Cambridge sound masking system’s ability to use less than 24 watts of power to provide masking coverage of up to 72,000 square feet helped Autodesk achieve the perfect rating. The LEED Commercial Interiors Certification is independent from the building’s LEED score and is based on providing an environment that is comfortable, distraction-free, and ensures a level of employee privacy. Facilities Coordinator Steve Boulas appreciates the system’s set-it-and-forget-it ease of use. “The software is easy to use and allows me to modify any zone without needing to leave my office,” Boulas said. “But I really don’t have to make adjustments, the system just works.” In all, the addition of the Qt X system has led to a better aesthetic design while ensuring a distraction-free environment with privacy for each employee.
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