HOK’s Daniel Herriott Discusses How to Optimize Acoustics in Open Offices
To properly manage the acoustics of open spaces, designers should control the noise level and give workers options for private conversations and group discussions.
“The sound of a telephone ringing is an issue, because the ring has a shrill pitch that penetrates several types of surfaces, says Daniel Herriott, vice president and director of interior design for HOK. And it can even be a problem when a space is too quiet, Herriott says. He equates it to being in a library, a space that is quieter than what most people are accustomed to.”
“HOK’s Herriott notes that the nature of monolithic ceilings means they reflect sound, so while he would tend to put a flat ceiling above a table to encourage sound where discussions are held, he would use more of an acoustical ceiling treatment on the perimeter to soak up that same sound so that it wouldn’t distract others in the office.”
“‘You can do some very detailed tweaks to make it work,’ Herriott says, adding that the trend in San Francisco, where he is based, is for offices that have open ceilings to be sprayed with sound-absorbing material.”
“In addition, Herriott says, individual personalities come into play. Some workers are extroverts who want to be around coworkers and aren’t bothered by noise. Others are introverts who don’t want to be disturbed, and it only takes one or two people nearby to cause problems for that individual. ‘So when we’re dealing with different departments, we look at job responsibilities and at the types of individuals in that space,’ he says.”
“Having quiet zones where individuals can work is a must, Herriott says.”