Acoustic Design in the K-12 Environment

Learn about acoustic considerations and design choices for this school in Tacoma, WA
This course is no longer active
Live webinar airing on December 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM EST
Sponsored by Armstrong Ceilings
Presented by Mohamed Ait Allaoua, Sean Browne, and Karen Wood

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the fundamental properties of sound.
  2. Define acoustical terms and concepts explained in this course.
  3. List two acoustical design considerations for the Arlington Elementary School project.
  4. Describe material choices for enhanced acoustic design for the Arlington Elementary School project.


1 AIA LU/Elective
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
AANB 1 Hour of Core Learning
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
NSAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
OAA 1 Learning Hour
NLAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
Approved for structured learning
This course is approved as a core course
Approved for Core Learning
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a Core Course
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia

This course is part of the Acoustics Academy

When Arlington Elementary School, in Tacoma, WA, undertook a redesign the approach was to create an open-program school, a rethink of traditional elementary school design. The approach stresses an abundance of natural light and impactful color options, as well as acoustic design that enhances the learning environment.

Mohamed Ait Allaoua, Managing Partner, A3 Acoustics will discuss the acoustic design and considerations of the Arlington Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington.

Sean Browne, Principal Scientist, Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions, is a member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and will provide a basis for understanding by reviewing the fundamental properties of sound, as well as related terms and concepts.

Karen Wood, AIA LEED AP, Associate, Mahlum will present her experience designing and building the Arlington Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington.

The presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion focused on how these projects using acoustical design strategies address several key issues, including:

  • Cost: What tradeoffs, if any, are required to optimize acoustics in new building designs, particularly in performance spaces. In the featured projects, did meeting this challenge add costs that needed to be recouped in other areas of the project?
  • Meeting standards: Were there any regulatory standards that the project needed to overcome? If so, what strategies did the design team use to overcome them?
  • Drivers: Did the owner request an acoustically sound building, or did you, as the architects, propose it? If the latter, what led you to suggest using specific materials and strategies toward the end goal?
  • Design constraints and opportunities


Photo courtesy of Mahlum


Allaoua Mohamed Ait Allaoua has been developing architecture and engineering solutions in acoustics for more than 20 years and specializes in education and K-12 school projects. He holds an Architecture diploma from the University of Blida in Algeria, and a diploma of Advanced Specialized Studies in the Scientific Fundamentals of Architectural Acoustics from the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France.

Browne Sean Browne is senior principal scientist for Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he leads the Armstrong Acoustics Program. He is a member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Sean holds engineering degrees from Florida State University and The University of Miami and a patent for a power and signal distribution system (interior building spaces). He has been published in the journals of the International Symposium on Room Acoustics and the Acoustical Society of America. Sean can be reached at
Wood In her 14 years with Mahlum, Karen Wood has worked as a member of design teams to create innovative solutions for educational facilities at all levels. Her recent efforts include Arlington Elementary School, which is redefining traditional learning spaces for Tacoma Public Schools, the Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center and Kellogg Middle School for the Shoreline School District, as well as the design and construction of a 285,000 square foot High School for Issaquah School District. Karen holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Washington. She is a registered architect in Washington.
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