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Unique soundproofing challenge met despite nearby airport

System integrators and architectural designers often have to deal with challenges of one type of another-a brick wall here, a misplaced AC duct there-in completing their broadcast and production facility installations, but the ability to cancel out the noise of a constant stream of airplanes flying overhead has to be among the most difficult to remediate.

In Chantilly, Virginia, TeleProductions, Inc. (TPI), one of the largest TV production/post-production facilities in the Washington DC area, is located directly beneath the Dulles Airport flight path. When they wanted to expand and build new studios and related facilities, they had to figure out a way to cancel out the sometime deafening noise or risk disrupting production. The company has produced and distributed TV programming for international broadcast, cable, satellite and new media audiences for over 30 years.

Looking for answers to its unique design challenge, TPI called in NY-based Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) to help them build an expansive new music production live room, shared by two spacious control rooms, and a 1,750 square foot shooting stage with a dedicated audio control room. But they all had to be noise-free or the project wouldn't work.

Joshua Morris, a WSDG partner and project manager on the TPI job, said the design plan was among his most challenging assignments. What he did was design and supervise the building of a second "non-isolated" lid beneath the production studio's ceiling, thereby increasing the isolation and achieving the required quietness level.

“The most significant issue we faced during the design process was TPI's proximity to the Dulles Airport flight path,” he said. “Acoustic isolation had to be maintained across the entire frequency spectrum, but specifically low frequencies. Fortunately, in addition to our standard isolated ceiling lid, the building's 24 ft. ceiling height was more than adequate. This second lid also functions as a mechanical mezzanine enabling workers to access ductwork and equipment as needed.”

The unique design elements implemented by Morris and his team resulted in the virtual elimination of air traffic noise interference.

The new expansion includes a central machine room, several edit rooms for post-production work, a production suite comprised of a studio, production control room and an isolation booth and two self-contained edit suites for external clients. WSDG also developed a conference room and a small 30-seat screening room, which includes a full surround system and speaker wall.

As another design innovation, due to the fact that most TPI operators typically work standing up in their studio control rooms, WSDG's Morris designed an elevated platform system enabling the consoles to be installed at the appropriate height. WSDG also developed a raised access floor system to ensure easy access to the extensive AV cables that run through the facility. This solution not only served to facilitate access, but also helped reroute AV cables from interference inducing power cables.

WSDG worked closely with local architect Sal Poulton of Gileau-Poulton Architects, in Woodbridge, Va., to complete the design.