The city of Cambridge has embarked on an Innovation Agenda for the Cambridge Public Schools in order to better prepare students for the future. Part of that agenda included the redesign of The King Open School to include a JK-5 Program, an Upper School Program, Community School and Afterschool programs. As the first Net Zero Emissions school in Massachusetts, William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. in association with Arrowstreet Inc. designed a school that would be a shining example for sustainable and energy-efficient projects. Acentech provided acoustics, noise, and audiovisual consulting for this transformative project.

Acentech’s acoustics consultants worked to ensure the entire complex would serve not only students but the entire Cambridge community as well, since the Cambridge Public Library Valente branch is also part of this project. Given the diverse spaces in a school, our consultants provided a wide range of expertise in sound isolation, room shaping, and room finishes, all with a focus on meeting LEED requirements. There were many creative design decisions that included acoustics. For example, the auditorium of the school uses GFRG instead of conventional drywall to help provide complex 3-dimensional shapes on the wall. The façade of the school is carefully designed to mitigate traffic noise affecting the classrooms along Cambridge Street. The schools are connected by the large Dining Commons, which functions as a dining facility and a group gathering space for both the students and the public. Acentech’s acoustics consultants made sure these spaces, while distinctive, worked harmoniously to create a functional and productive learning environment.

The school is tucked within a close-knit residential neighborhood in Area 4. The project was carefully designed with almost all outdoor mechanical equipment located within a roof well, which helps minimize equipment noise impact to the community.

To further enhance the collaborative design of the school, Acentech’s audiovisual consultants designed the systems for the auditorium, gymnasium, music classrooms, cafeteria, and a large multipurpose classroom. The audiovisual system in the auditorium is configured for an audience of approximately 400 people, including a sound system for speech reinforcement and audio playback, and video projection system. The sound system includes wired and wireless microphones, a digital mixing console, a production communication system, and an assistive listening system. The new campus bridges the gap between Cambridge public schools and the Cambridge community, providing students and residents alike with the best that Cambridge has to offer.

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