Case Study: Education Development Center, Inc. (Sound Masking) – Waltham, Massachusetts

International nonprofit incorporates sound-masking system into new, open-concept headquarters

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is a $190M international, nonprofit organization that conducts programs in education, health, and international development around the world. EDC built out a new 120,000 s.f. headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts. Designed by Sasaki Associates and Taylor & Burns, EDC’s new space was renovated by Commodore Builders. It now houses nearly 420 employees, in a collaborative, open work environment. The office features a café, multiple breakout and soft-seating areas, a flexible conference center accommodating 184 people and state-of-the-art audio/visual systems that facilitate global operations and communications.

The collaborative office environment prompted acoustical consultants, Acentech, to recommend the installation of a sound-masking & speech-privacy system manufactured by Cambridge Sound Management. In order to create the atmosphere EDC desired and to leverage other ‘green’ building elements, such as the maximization of interior light, there was limited use of ACT ceilings and modular furniture walls were kept to 48”. The designers recognized that the combination of high hard ceilings and low cubical walls would create distraction and privacy issues between employees. The obvious answer was a sound-masking system.

Connectivity Point, an authorized dealer/installer for Cambridge Sound Management (CSM), was selected by Commodore Builders to install the sound-masking & speech-privacy system throughout the two-story 120,000 s.f. building. CSM’s “direct field” system was perfect for this application and enabled EDC to effectively “mask” competing conversations that would otherwise cause distractions and defeat the open collaborative environment EDC was trying to achieve in the new space. Connectivity Point used a variety of mounts to secure emitters to the ceiling, and the white cables used to connect emitters were carefully installed to minimize their visibility.

In a Commodore press release Tom Reilly, EDC’s Director of Operations, stated, “The project team was outstanding in building a collaborative, comfortable and environmentally sensitive office space while meeting a very difficult schedule with stringent financial considerations.”  Connectivity Point was complimented on the neatness of the installation, and EDC was pleased with the performance of the sound-masking system which made the vision of their new work spaces possible. “The new space enables a high level of collaboration and communication among staff and company leaders,” said EDC Board Chair Martin Suomi in an EDC press release. “This move has been a key piece of EDC’s strategic plan, and we are pleased to see it come to fruition.”

 

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