ARE 5.0 Project Planning & Design Exam Prep

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Why Dropped Ceilings

7m 9s

In this ARE 5.0 NCARB-approved Project Planning and Design Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 PPD exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Project Planning and Design Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to the generation or evaluation of design alternatives that synthesize environmental, cultural, behavioral, technical and economic issues.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Project Planning and Design Exam including design concepts, sustainability/environmental design, universal design, and other forms of governing codes and regulations. 

So we've talked about drop ceilings in office spaces a number of times already, and I think it's worth taking a minute to say, alright why drop ceilings, why do we always have these? You know I think we're all pretty tired of drop ceilings and everybody wants to have something new to put, but one of the reasons they exist is that they just answer a lot of questions. So whether they're good or bad is sort of beside the point for the exam, the main thing is you understand why people put those drop ceilings in. So we were talking earlier about the idea of plenums, so that plenum is that idea where you're essentially making a space above a ceiling, below the deck, part of that return air system.

So I can put the actual duct work father back, away from the supply ducts and so I don't get that crossing problem. And every time I have air that gets up into that ceiling space through one of those open diffusers that air can sort of go around the structure, it can go around the lights, it can go around the sprinklers It doesn't have to be in a duct in order for it to get to that return air duct system.

So that plenum, to make that really work effectively, kind of needs that ceiling structure in order to create the right pressures in order to make that really sort of flow and work. You can do a plenum concept without the ceiling, but it creates a series of other issues, so generally if you're talking plenums you need the ceiling. The other big thing with those drop ceilings, is the acoustic control that they provide.

If we are in a sort of busy office space, and people are talking on the phone and people are typing on their computers, and people are having conversations by the water cooler, and all those sounds and, you know copy machines going, and all the things that happen in an office, is a lot of noise that's happening. And if you think about what that ceiling surface is, if you imagine just for a minute if, let's say instead of a typical type of material that they use for the drop ceilings, let's say it was all glass, you had a fully glass ceiling.

That glass ceiling, the sounds would bounce really easily and dramatically, and you would feel each of those different conversations. You'd hear each of the different conversations, you'd be able to tell all the words that people are talking. Like it's one thing to hear noise, it's quite another to be able to actually distinguish different words, because it's really hard if you're working on your thing, and somebody else is talking near you and you can hear all the words, it's hard for your brain not to just start to listen to those words.

So the idea of these drop ceiling panels is they have a kind of rough surface, they have little nooks and crannies in them, and they have a little bit of texture to them, so that as the sound is incident on it, that sort of vibration of sound gets to it, it bounces in multiple directions.

Instead of having that direct, clean bounce where if it was a hard, flat surface it bounces in all different ways. And so all of that noise becomes kind of a white noise, it just kinda becomes a mix of sounds. You don't get that spot where you can literally hear the exact words that somebody is saying on the other side of a work carrel or something like that. So the acoustics plays a big role in why a lot of offices put these things in.

Another issue is just maintenance. As you're going along in buildings, things happen. There's pipes up above the ceiling, there's you know air ducts that have to be adjusted every once in awhile, there's things that you have to be able to get to, things leak, pipes cause damage, and it's one thing if I can just sort of pop out a ceiling tile and jump up and have somebody fix something and then put the ceiling tile back in.

First of all, it's much more cost effective from a maintenance standpoint for the building, but also if I, let's say that ceiling tile got damaged by whatever the leak was, I can throw that one away and just get a new one and put it up as opposed to having to take down an entire ceiling and put a whole new ceiling up. And so it's a way of sort of controlling costs, controlling both costs from the material costs of replacement, but also the labor costs of somebody being able to get access to all these different elements that are actually up in the ceilings.

You know we have a tendency to sort of forget that, you know we think of the walls and the ceilings as these important planes, and these sort of solid things behind them, solid walls, solid ceilings, but in fact of course, they're most of the time voids and those voids are filled with utilities. They're filled with electricity, and water pipes, and all sorts of things going on in there. And so the idea of having an easy way to get access to them is actually pretty handy, and used often especially in something that gets shifted around as often as an office space does.

For residential, you don't typically need that much access in that same sort of way, so it doesn't really fit in the residential setting, at least not as sort of obviously. In an office setting it has a pretty simple and straightforward logic to it. And then, while there are certain aesthetic issues, mostly that we're just tired of these drop ceilings, there are certain advantages to having a grid on your ceiling.

And one of those advantages is, well like we just said, there's a bunch of stuff up behind there, so I'm gonna have to be able to have access up to the pipes, up to the damper control for the duct work. There's gonna be spots where you have to be able to get up, which means if you don't have a drop ceiling, if you have a drywall ceiling, I'm going to have access panels at various locations. And so sometimes it's actually better to have this nice, clean grid which just becomes sort of a field, if you will, it just becomes a simple grid that you'd sort of dies away in your brain, you don't think about it, it's just a simple idea.

As opposed to, a beautiful, clean drywall ceiling that I then see three different access panels at different locations, where they sort of pop out and become part of a design, if you didn't even mean 'em to. So the idea of the drop panels, like I said, everybody's tired of 'em but they do answer all of these kinds of issues and that is a very important idea.

You know you have to be able to control acoustics, the plenums are very useful, we definitely need to be able to maintain our buildings, we wanna be able to not have to throw huge amounts of material away just because we had a little tiny water leak somewhere. So there's a bunch of advantages to these systems, you can go without them, but then you still have to figure out how you're going to answer all of those issues if you don't have those drop ceilings.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Project Planning & Design Exam Prep

Duration: 30h 26m

Author: Mike Newman