Working with a Consultant
For Architects and Designers
There's always a first time for working with an acoustical or sound and A/V system design consultant, so it helps to know what to expect in the working relationship. If the room acoustics or sound and A/V system are absolutely critical to the use of the finished facility, it helps to get an acoustical consultant involved as early as possible. An hour or two spent talking with us during the initial concept design development can save dozens of hours later in the schematic and detail design because we can flag potential problems before you have invested a great deal of design time in the project. The earlier we are involved, the greater the likelihood that we can neatly integrate the acoustical and A/V or sound system requirements into the design.
At the schematic design stage we can provide acoustical guidelines to help you develop a schematic design that will fit the acoustical needs of the client, again reducing redundant design work, or false starts. We will also be able to provide important design coordination guidance at this early stage. Locations for projection systems and visual display systems, or for sound system loudspeakers can be identified early so that they can be incorporated into the overall design. Mechanical and electrical system noise and vibration concerns can also be brought to light at this time, making it easier for the other subconsultants to locate these systems in areas that will not cause noise and vibration problems later. We will also provide background noise guidelines so that the other consultants can be designing to the correct targets. This reduces the redundant work for ourselves and the mechanical consultant (and in some cases the structural consultant).
We provide ongoing input as the design development proceeds, refining details as the overall design takes shape. Balancing the acoustical treatment and finish budgets can take place at this time, as can concept design and detailed budget estimates of sound and A/V systems.
We can begin development of detailed design and specification of sound and A/V systems when the Design Development phase of the project is substantially complete. Detailed coordination of technical systems will also take place through the final stages of the project design leading up to the tender phase.
Through the tender phase, we will respond to questions regarding changes and addenda, or requested alternates. Once the sound or A/V system bids have been returned, we review the bids to check that they will meet spec (you'd be surprised how many don't, especially the low bids), and recommend award of the contract.
There's two common scenarios in which we find ourselves working with the building or facility owner; the first occurs when the acoustical or sound system design was not included in the original design, or design/build package for a new facility and the owner will hire us directly to handle these design issues. The second scenario is the retro-fit, or renovation situation, where the building is being upgraded, or acoustical problems or sound system deficiencies become apparent when a new building is turned over to the owner.
Where we are hired by the owner to work with a project design team, we represent the owner's best interests in discussions with the design team. We monitor the progress of the design, identifying issues that may degrade the finished acoustical environment for the owner, and we provide design information to the design team to help them provide a suitable acoustical environment. The same process is applied to the sound and A/V system requirements, helping the project team deliver an integrated acoustical and sound system environment.
In renovations, we will identify the extent and scope of acoustical or sound and A/V system deficiencies through measurement and/or calculation, and provide recommendations for alterations, additions or renovations to correct the deficiencies. Often we will act as the liason between contractors and the owner, translating technical talk or verifying claims by the contractor. One of the most important advantages of using a consultant in this situation is having the ability to set an objective standard for determining when the contractor has met their obligations and the contract is complete and can be paid. For acoustical and sound system issues, this can be very important, as many lay-people are not experienced enough to determine if they have received the full value for their money. In order to maintain the needed objectivity in these decisions, it is absolutely imperative that the consultant have no affiliation with the vendor of acoustical products or sound and video hardware. This should be the primary deciding factor when considering which consultant to hire, followed by their track record and reputation.
Mc Squared System Design Group, Inc
323 - 901 West 3rd Street, North Vancouver, BC. V7P 3P9 Ph 604-986-8181