Custom Ceiling Artfully Blends Acoustics and Aesthetic

Project: The Chazen Museum of Art

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

The Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison celebrated 41 years with the opening of a $43 million, 81,000-square-foot addition. A marvel of architecture and design, the addition more than doubled previous gallery capacity, increased public access to collections and added space for events. Many of these events will be hosted in a new two-story lobby that opens onto a courtyard near major campus walkways.

One of the key components of the dramatic lobby design is a custom-engineered Ceilencio® ceiling system with Claro® panels from CertainTeed Decoustics®. Ceilencio gave Boston design architect Machado and Silvetti Associates complete freedom to create a beautiful 3,600 square-foot geometric ceiling design, featuring diamond-shaped panels that measure 11 feet x 8 feet.

“We needed ceiling panels in a specific shape and a much larger size than most manufacturers offer,” said Stephanie Randazzo-Dwyer, an associate with Machado and Silvetti Associates. “Another important goal was finding ceiling panels available with a finish that would match the off-white color of the glass fiber-reinforced concrete panels on the exterior of the building to allow a seamless transition between these two areas. I think we were somewhat pushing the limits with our ceiling design, but Decoustics did an excellent job meeting our needs.” 

The Claro ceiling panels not only provided the color and texture the design team wanted, but also addressed its main acoustical concern — controlling ambient noise in a large space with high ceilings, stone floors and metal walls. With high daily foot traffic and the museum’s desire to host events with live music, acoustical control was a high priority. With an acoustically transparent coating possessing superb sound-absorbing properties (NRC 0.90), Claro again proved to be an ideal match.

The customer was equally pleased with final product, aesthetically and acoustically.“The lobby looks wonderful and has excellent acoustics,” said Russell Panczenko, director of the Chazen Museum of Art. “We had four days of grand opening events with live music and about 8,000 people coming through in four days, and we even had musicians complimenting us on the acoustics of the space. If musicians are satisfied with the acoustics of that space, that says a lot to me.”

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