Outside of cities themselves, you would be hard pressed to find any other location that can match the diversity of institutions and architectural styles and structures that are found concentrated on many Academic campuses today.
From Learning Centers, Administration Buildings, Research and Healthcare Institutes, Libraries, Lecture and Performance Halls, Theatres and Art Galleries to Residences, Cafeterias/Food Courts, Book Stores, Museums, Houses of Worship, Gymnasiums and Aquatic Centers, these dynamic centers of learning feature a wide range of academic, professional and recreational activities.
University, College and School Acoustical Engineering Know-how
HGC Engineering understands the unique set of acoustical engineering challenges that each of these areas creates due to the specific nature of the activities and operations being undertaken within them. We have spent nearly two decades building our expertise while providing noise, vibration and acoustics solutions for Institutions of Higher Learning across Canada and the United States.
Public-Private Partnership (P3) Project Experience
We are also an active contributor to both Planning, Design, Compliance (PDC) and Design-Build (DB) teams on P3 projects. We work with leading developers, school planners, builders, architects, and engineers, providing comprehensive assessment and design services for all acoustical-related aspects of these large, complex and often mixed-use developments.
Our experience includes private and public universities and colleges, as well as primary and secondary schools large and small. We have also collaborated on new construction projects, expansions, restorations and renovations.
Furthermore, one of the principals of HGC Engineering is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture and lectures frequently at Dalhousie University’s School of Architecture.
Acoustical Standards for Classrooms
Today, exceptional acoustics is recognized as a key component of successful learning environments. In fact, The Acoustical Society of America has recently published acoustical performance standards for teaching facilitieswith the aim of setting guidelines and expectations that school planners are expected to incorporate into project design specifications.
In the introduction to the standards the Society notes: “excessive noise and reverberation interfere with speech intelligibility, resulting in reduced understanding and therefore reduced learning. In many classrooms in the United States, the speech intelligibility rating is 75 percent or less. That means that, in speech intelligibility tests, listeners with normal hearing can understand only 75 percent of the words read from a list.” We are strong advocates of these high standards and have applied them in the acoustical design of projects where they are warranted by the project team and where budgets allow.
Large Seated Spaces
We are also well versed in the acoustical requirements of large seated spaces that are typical fixtures of academic institutions. We have been involved in the acoustical design of over 100 school auditoriums, lecture and performance theatres, sports arenas and worship spaces, including a 2000 seat indoor sports stadium and a 1200 seat theatre-style worship sanctuary.
Vibration Isolation of Sensitive Equipment
MRI and CT Scanners, DNA sequencing microarrays, Electron Microscopes, are just some of the advanced equipment often associated with research institutes and medical or engineering departments on College and University Campuses.
These advanced systems are often so sensitive that their performance and reliability are affected by vibration dynamics. that would be virtually imperceptible to building occupants. HGC Engineering has developed an international reputation and expertise in assessing and mitigating the impacts of vibration on these valued high technologies.
We also have the resources and capabilities to conduct vibration monitoring during construction.
LEED and WELL Certified buildings
We have also performed acoustical consulting for a variety of Green Building projects, which have become more prevalent in recent years. There are special challenges to developing good practices in acoustics for LEED and WELL Certified buildings, and we are familiar with the acoustical implications associated with their associated systems, standards and certification processes.
HGC Engineering offers consultation services relating to acoustics, noise and vibration at all stages of a project
Environmental Noise and Vibration Studies
These feasibility studies examine the noise impact of nearby roads, highways, rail and subway traffic on the proposed site and its future occupants. As well, the study assesses the potential effects of vibration from adjacent subway or railway lines on a building’s foundation and structure. A study will also look at surrounding industries, buildings or activities nearby for potential stationary sources of noise or vibration that might impact the planned site. Additionally, we will review any early details the project team can provide on the site plans, looking for new noise and vibration sources associated with the design such as such as cooling towers, heating plants, loading bays, generators, helipads, that may in turn impact surrounding buildings and environments. These aspects are considered in a preliminary fashion in the context of a study and only general recommendations for mitigation of environmental noise and vibration are offered at this juncture.
At this Planning Stage we also offer:
- Expert Testimony for municipal hearings
- Peer Review
- Acoustic Design Spec and Brief for Design/Build RFP
During Building Design
We review the internal design of the building and its systems in order to provide acoustical guidance and recommendations to the architectural, mechanical, and electrical members of the team, with appropriate follow-up through construction.
There are several aspects of the project during construction where we are also able to offer additional assistance for the design/build team.
Construction Vibration Assessment: Toronto is one of the few cities in North America with a City By-Law, 514-2008, that requires that a Construction Vibration Assessment be conducted in support of an application for a building or foundation permit. It mandates that a Professional Engineer assess the potential for impact on off-site structures in a “zone of influence” by the vibration effects of shoring, excavation and demolition activities. HGC Engineering is fully versed in all aspects of Construction Vibration Monitoring and Assessment. We offer the in-house know-how and monitoring technology your require to efficiently and cost-effectively meet your assessment and timeline requirements. Visit our Construction Vibration Monitoring and Assessment page for more details.
Shop Drawing Reviews: Shop drawings can be reviewed once the project enters the construction phase. We will review typical base-building equipment drawings for consistency with the specifications and recommendations contained in our initial review.
Site Inspections and Testing: Site inspections or field testing is often driven by the sensitivity of a specific issue or the complexity of its implementation.
Commissioning: During commissioning we will conduct measurements of reverberation and background sound to confirm compliance with the criteria.
Noise and Vibration Complaints: We offer on-going noise and vibration complaint forensics and troubleshooting to building managers of both new and mature buildings.