Acoustics in Office Interiors

Learn about acoustic considerations and design choices for office space interiors
Webinar On-Demand
Sponsored by Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions
Presented by Jeanne Jameson and Sean Browne

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the fundamental properties of sound
  2. Define acoustical terms and concepts explained in this course
  3. List two acoustical design considerations described in the presented projects
  4. Discuss various options and design strategies for noise control in open office spaces


1 AIA LU/Elective
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.
This course can be self-reported to the NSAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia
This test is no longer available for credit

This course is part of the Acoustics Academy

Office space design can be a complex process acoustics is one aspect that is frequently overlooked but can be a major reason for client disappointment. Addressing privacy, as well as distraction, issues are key elements of acoustic design for office interiors. There is no one-fits-all solution and effective acoustic design is comprised of several components. In this webinar, along with an overview of the principles of acoustics, you will learn by example from these real-world projects presented by the designers of the spaces.

Jeanne Jameson, Associate, AIA, LEED AP ZGF Architects will be presenting the Expensify Portland Office When tech company Expensify expanded operations to Portland in 2017, it found the perfect new home in the downtown National Landmark First National Bank building. ZGF partnered with Expensify to design an interior that reflects the company’s signature “choose-your-own-adventure” work setting, paying homage to the company’s beginnings working in coffee shops and later out of a San Francisco office with no assigned seating.

Every space in the sky-lit, four-story atrium, complete with classic columns, giant bank vaults, and Art Deco details, functions as the workplace. Seating is unassigned, conference rooms are unbookable, and employees choose where to sit depending on their individual style, mood, and tasks.

Klara Komorous-Towey, President and CEO of Komorous-Towey Architects will be presenting H&L Partners Headquarters and the Alameda County Information Technology Department (ITD) Headquarters projects. H&L Partners moved out of the 20th floor of a high rise in San Francisco's financial district and into Oakland's Jack London Square when they purchased a 3 story former ice house. To provide the creative, open, collaboration space H&L required, KTA designed a new internal staircase to link the first and second floors, used activity-based design strategies, selected partitions and utilized acoustical treatments that doubled as tack boards and art.

KTA completely renovated and rehabilitated the new Headquarters for Alameda County ITD located in Downtown Oakland, CA. KTA worked closely with ITD to blend the department’s innovative vision with the existing building, which was designed by a prominent architect in 1950 as a bank. KTA designed a new mezzanine structure in the existing two story banking hall, now a large open plan office space. The design addressed the special acoustical issues created by the existing granite and marble finishes while retaining the look of the historical hall.

Sean Browne, principal scientist, 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.

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 ZGF Architects


Jeanne Jameson, AIA, LEED AP, is an associate at ZGF Architects. She enjoys learning about each client’s unique characteristics to develop a design that represents his or her character and culture. Her professional experience includes building assessments, programming, design, and documentation. Jeanne has a fondness for designing spaces that bring people together in sustainable environments, both indoors and outdoors.

Klara Klara Komorous-Towey's designs can be found throughout California, Oregon, and Nevada. Her varied list of projects include hundreds of thousands of square feet of tenant improvements, high rise condominiums, custom homes and retail as well as renovation of historic buildings. Klara creates designs with superb aesthetic value that seamlessly integrate acoustical treatments that add interest and flair to the overall design..

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


Armstrong World Industries Armstrong World Industries is a leader in the design and manufacture of innovative commercial ceiling and wall systems. At home, at work, in health-care facilities, classrooms, stores, and restaurants, Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions offer interior options that help create healthy, sustainable spaces that protect people and cultivate well-being and comfort so they can be at their best.

Armstrong is committed to developing new and sustainable ceiling solutions, with design and performance possibilities that empower its customers to create beautiful, high-performance residential and commercial buildings. Armstrong continues to grow and prosper for the benefit of all its stakeholders.


Originally published in December 2019