High-Profile Ceilings

School features ornamental and functional Rockfon systems.

Sammamish High School, Bellevue, WA, is ornamental as well as functional, and features Rockfon stone-wool acoustic ceiling systems throughout the high-profile facility. Photos: Lara Swimmer Photography

Sammamish High School’s new Bellevue, WA, campus replaced an existing one-story building with a three-story, state-of-the-art educational facility spanning 320,000 sq. ft. and serving almost 1,000 students in grades 9 to 12. Designed by Integrus Architecture, Seattle, the school is the last of Bellevue School District’s high schools to be modernized. According to Jack McLeod, director of facilities and operations for the school district, “Sammamish will be the crown jewel.”

Ornamental and functional, the high school features Rockfon, Chicago, stone-wool acoustic ceiling systems throughout the high-profile facility. In total, distributor Valhalla Construction Products, Silverdale, WA, provided more than 250,000 sq. ft. of Rockfon ceiling systems to installing contractor Forrest Sound Products, Redmond, WA.

Collaborative approach

According to the Integrus team, the school’s replacement and modernization project involved multiple phases through four years. The new high school integrated an existing performing-arts facility into the first phase of construction. In addition, a new two-story athletic building, glass-arts facility, and concession/ticket booth are sited to work with existing fields.

Central to the school’s design is a curriculum emphasizing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and STEM programs. STEM is the educational acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. Sammamish also adds arts and robotics to the curriculum. Students are taught to develop critical thinking skills in PBL assignments by identifying the problem, then designing, engineering, and fabricating appropriate solutions.

Assignments include a need for “clean” spaces, with computer access for engineering and drawing, as well as “dirty” spaces for active, creative fabrication. PBL also places high demand on spaces for teamwork and collaboration, as well as areas for performance and work display.

According to McLeod, “Flexibility is still really one of the key elements.” The building is designed with the future in mind. The idea is for the building to be able to adapt to teaching needs as the years pass.

With the library above the vocational-education fabrication area, noise control was a challenge. Sound isolation in the floor-ceiling assembly was needed. Photos: Lara Swimmer Photography

Partnering with Integrus Architecture, the school’s design team helped determine the vision and must-haves for the new building. “The amount of collaboration that went into the project was unprecedented. The architect, school district, principal, teachers, and students collaborated to create a school that focused on making a positive impact for both the natural environment and student learning environment,” summarized Ben Pedersen, Rockfon district sales manager for the Pacific Northwest. “The goal was to create the high school of the future–for sustainability, learning environment, community outreach, and safety.”

Located within the heart of the facility, vocational-education fabrication areas are a resource for all students, but a challenge for noise control. The library is directly above the fabrication studios and needed sound isolation in the floor-ceiling assembly.

“Creating a good acoustic experience improves learning and understanding. Every student should have the same opportunity to hear and understand what is being said whether they are learning to weld in a noisy shop or reading Latin in the library,” explained Rockfon acoustic specialist Gary Madaras.

The architecture team worked with acoustical-design consultant, Sparling, Lynnwood, WA, to understand baseline acoustics for high school classrooms and other environments. “We worked to identify the most suitable materials and systems to meet the needs of each of the specific users–administrative offices, gym, common areas, typical classroom, music room, [and other areas.]”

As the ceiling-installation contractor, Forrest Sound Products’ senior project manager, Charles Roetcisoender, helped select the correct products for the specification. “His understanding of the acoustical significance of placing Rockfon tiles throughout [the project], along with meeting Integrus’ visual requirements, not only produced a beautiful looking school, but created an education space that is performing at a peak level,” praised Forrest Sound Products’ president, Doug Bixel. “One just needs to walk through this school to see and feel the difference.”

Madaras continued, “Due to its fiber structure, stone wool’s high-performing, sound-absorptive properties provide Rockfon ceilings with excellent noise-reduction capabilities. This also reduces reverberation and improves speech intelligibility.”

Pedersen added, “Sammamish High School was the first in the Northwest to use Rockfon Alaska and Sonar acoustic stone-wool ceiling panels with high fire performance and the best sound absorption.”

With a fiber structure, stone wool’s high-performing, sound-absorptive properties provide ceilings with excellent noise-reduction capabilities that also reduce reverberation and improve speech intelligibility. Photos: Lara Swimmer Photography

Safety and sustainability

Along with optimizing acoustics for concentration and comfort, the ceilings also support the newest educational building codes and regulations,” emphasized Pedersen. “Providing a great line of defense against indoor health hazards, our Rockfon stone-wool ceiling panels are resistant to mold, bacteria, and humidity, and are GreenGuard Gold Certified for low VOCs. This stringent certification process considers safety factors that may impact people who are more vulnerable, such as children.”

Complementing the panels, the company’s Chicago Metallic suspension systems also have no reportable VOCs in the finished product. Chicago Metallic 4000 Tempra 9/16-in. and 1200 Seismic 15/16-in. suspension systems were installed to meet the project’s seismic-design category requirements. The suspension systems contain as much as 90% recycled content and are 100% recyclable at the end of their useful lifecycle. Rockfon stone-wool ceiling panels contain as much as 42% recycled materials and primarily are made from abundantly available basalt rock.

Additional sustainability strategies used for the school included facilitating an eco-charrette with district and school staff, developing a daylighting model to explore options, and specifying high-efficiency mechanical units, plumbing fixtures, LED lighting with intelligent lighting-control systems, and solar panels.

In classrooms, corridors, and common areas, the white surface of Rockfon ceilings reflects as much as 86% of available light. This better distribution of natural light helps educational facilities lower electric lighting loads and reduces cooling costs, saving energy and associated costs.

The ceiling panels also present a neat, clean edge. Pedersen concluded, “Rockfon ceiling panels helped the designers create amazing, beautiful spaces and also protect the space with their unique qualities.”


— Download ceiling solutions for education.

— Suspension systems product guide

— Stone-wool acoustic ceiling catalog

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