Colorful acoustic ceilings create an optimal museum acoustic experience


Blending acoustics and color to capture a better experience

Every inch of the Washington, D.C.-based International Spy Museum was designed and constructed to capture the essence of espionage, secrecy and intrigue. Rockfon's sound-absorbing stone wool products help contribute to the intensive, quiet and focused feeling that permeates the space.

Designed by London-based lead architect Rogers Stirk Harbour +  Partners in collaboration with Hickok Cole of Washington, D.C., the 140,000-square-foot building has quickly become recognizable for  its distinct and dynamic identity. The building’s exterior features  dramatic, sloped columns; a backlighted, folded, metal panel skin;  and a pleated glass veil – all emphasizing the museum’s theme of “hiding in plain sight.”

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The theme continues into the seven-story building’s eight-floor interior. Behind the scenes, sustainable goals also guided the building’s design  and construction in achieving LEED® Silver certification. The purpose-built nonprofit museum facility more than doubled the  space of the previous location’s education and programming space. Above the two-story lobby and retail area, and the three floors of  exhibition and theatre space, are two floors of set-back event space and a rooftop terrace with nearly 360-degree views of city. Enhancing the visitors’ experience within the museum, sound-absorbing Rockfon Alaska®, Rockfon® Koral™ and Rockfon® Color-All™ acoustic  stone wool ceiling panels were installed throughout the building. All of these products offer a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of 0.85 or higher. With an NRC of up to 0.90, Rockfon Color-All 2-by-8-foot Anthracite panels were selected for the lobby and  1-by-5-foot Concrete panels for the  gallery and event space. The Color-All colors were selected first, and the designers designed the entire space around the colors, so everything would blend seamlessly together.

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All of these stone wool ceiling  products from Rockfon also offer high  fire performance and have earned  GREENGUARD® Gold Certification for  low-VOC emission. Products with this  GREENGUARD® certification  contribute to indoor air quality and support LEED criteria. Stone wool’s natural properties for resisting  moisture and humidity also are key  attributes in museum installations with  sensitive climate-controlled protection.

The new Spy Museum’s permanent collection features more than 7,000 unique artifacts offering visitors the opportunity to come face-to-face with never-before-seen intelligence tools and gadgets. The expanded exhibits also reveal the often overlooked accounts of women and African-American officers and their crucial and largely unknown contributions, from the Revolutionary War to the present.

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