Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Simons Building, dating back to 1916, received a full renovation in time for its centennial. The project sought to restore the antiquated infrastructure of the home of the Department of Mathematics, one of MIT’s largest, as well as to give students, faculty, and staff updated spaces suited to their needs. Acentech was brought onto the project to help with the acoustical challenges presented by the building’s location along Memorial Drive, as well as some challenging adjacencies within the facility.

The renovation of the Simons Building, formerly known simply as Building 2, involved the restoration of the building’s façade, as well as an extensive interior renovation, including an additional floor of offices and mechanical space. The largest tiered lecture hall features glass windows on three sides, including one overlooking the Charles River and busy Memorial Drive. Acentech designed substantially upgraded double window systems to block intrusive noise from outside. Directly above this classroom is the new student commons, which required additional floor-ceiling isolation.

The “Ziggurat” is a tall space in the corner of the building, filled with open grad student offices and studio space. To make the space functional as an open office area, Acentech recommended sound absorptive panels.

Old-fashioned chalkboards, popular with the Math Department’s professors, presented a challenge as well. As they are much noisier than the whiteboards which are now standard in typical college classrooms, Acentech performed experiments and tested mock-ups to identify a mount that would properly isolate the chalkboard noise.

Acentech was also brought in to help determine whether or not construction related vibration and noise might adversely affect the ability of two laser labs, located in the basement, to keep functioning during construction. To do this, vibration and noise levels were monitored in these labs over a two-week period and compared to ambient levels.

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