Educators encourage students to take lessons from the world around them, to look for guidance in the places they live. The City of Cambridge, MA and the architects at Perkins Eastman took this adage to heart when designing the new 170,000 sf Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School. Acentech was selected by Perkins Eastman to provide a full range of acoustics consulting services for this project.

As a targeted LEED Platinum building, the MLK School is projected to use 60% less energy than typical educational buildings in New England. Energy-efficient practices, especially with mechanical equipment, are key to keeping this building as environmentally friendly as possible. Acentech’s team of acousticians assisted in the mechanical design as an effort to maintain efficiency and to make these systems as quiet as possible.

Proper sound isolation and sound absorptive finishes for active, hands-on learning spaces, such as typical classrooms, but also common rooms for homework, the library, or the gymnasium, were also key components to the development of the MLK School. Although some students may study well in pairs in a breakout space, others may retain information better nestled within a quiet nook in the library. Either way, Acentech’s team looked to ensure that both types of learners can find the best space possible for how they learn best. Creating an engaging environment for education requires the designer to realize that all children, no matter how energetic or shy, have to be able to find a space where they feel their most comfortable. Acentech was truly honored to assist Perkins Eastman with this cutting-edge project that will ultimately give students a sustainable, well-designed space to truly enjoy the journey of education.

Particular attention was paid to the design of the Auditorium. With challenging adjacencies such as mechanical rooms directly below and with the stage wall consisting of glazing overlooking an interior yard that opens to Putnam Avenue, this space raised interesting acoustical challenges. Nevertheless, with its intimate design and acoustical challenges overcome through careful collaboration between the architect and our team of acousticians, the Auditorium is considered by the users as one of the best performing spaces in the community of Cambridge.

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