Beyond the Build

Continuing Education

Noise Control for Multi-Use Buildings

These days, we are involved in several multi-use, multi-level projects, both suburban and urban. When these structures go vertical–due to space constraints or other reasons–they are often a mix with retail/restaurants, office and residential. These design conditions may create unique problems for future tenants for residents, such as noise, a large distraction in multi-use buildings. Occupants do not wish to live /work above or below the clatter of a loud business.

It’s been our experience that noise control should be considered on the front end of a project. We feel it is important. Depending on the complexity of the project, the process works best when acoustical engineers and or sound control manufacturers are teamed with the project design team as early as possible. There should be consideration for sound control in the walls, ceilings, floors, columns and structures. Options vary with different types of structures.

One of our current projects involves a multi-story building with offices on the upper floors and two restaurant tenants occupying the on-grade level. The building owner had a major concern with potential noise from the restaurants and wanted to ensure distraction for the office functions stayed minimal. We engaged an acoustical engineer who recommended using a number of sound control devices from Kinetics Noise Control.

The end result is a design with joist suspended spring isolation hangers coupled with resilient wall isolation clips. This is a complex system of spring loaded hangers specifically designed to hold various ceiling weights as determined by our ceiling plan. When finished, the ceiling will have 2 layers of 5/8″ sheetrock suspended on these spring isolator hangers. While it’s not cheap, it’s a necessity for quality in this type of environment, limiting the amount of noise transmission between the different functions of the structure.

We believe that many do not consider noise issues until late in the game when it is too late in the game to address the problems seamlessly. Many times it ends up being a costly inconvenience. We always suggest that clients be proactive with noise control in multi-use buildings, discussing the needs with both the general contractor and design team on the front end for the most economically and effective means and methods. After all, you only get one chance to get it right the first time.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.