Shhh… you’re in a library, with acoustic panels

Libraries are notoriously quiet places, and what better way to represent a librarian in a game of charades than to mime a “Shhh”. Well, we want you to know that librarians rarely shush these days, and enjoy hearing conversation and collaboration going on in the library.

That said, we know that quiet spaces and good sound management are important for a library. This was something you told us when we surveyed last year, in preparation for the renovation, and we’re happy to report that Perkins+Will have devised a number of sound control techniques for the new library.

Rendering of glass-enclosed reading room.
Glass-enclosed reading room, with acoustic ceiling panels.

Glass-enclosed reading room

On the Mezzanine level, overlooking Mission Hill, you’ll find a quiet Reading Room in the renovated library. The Reading Room will be enclosed in glass facing the atrium of the library, so you’ll be able to see down to the second floor, but not be disturbed by the noise. We think this quiet space will be just right when you need to focus, or be inspired by a class library reading room space.


Microperf ceiling panels

Throughout portions of the 2nd and Mezzanine levels, the architects have designed a ceiling system that will reduce noise in the library space. The ceiling will be composed of microperforated wood panels that have unique acoustical properties to absorb sound. The panels look like solid wood, but at the core are comprised of several layers designed to absorb sound. The tiny perforations throughout the panels direct the sound waves to the absorption.

Composition of the microperf panel, from Navy Island SoundPly panels

These panels from Navy Island are unique – they are very thin, 1″ in thickness, and they are not prone to water damage that typical wood paneling would encounter (say if a sprinkler system were to activate). The panels form a design element in the new library, accentuating the mezzanine and 3rd floor levels, like giant trays in the atrium space.




Here’s a closer look at what you’ll see over your head in much of the new library:

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So when you arrive in the renovated library, we’re hoping that you can find quiet spaces, but also enjoy a better sound environment even in the noisier parts of the library. Because librarians don’t really shush people these days – we want to see you collaborating, learning, and enjoying your time in the library!