Church Family Center Cafeteria Alexandria, VA

Looking to make mealtime a little more enjoyable

Churches have become far more than a place to hear a sermon on Sundays. Churches are offering many additional activities by building Family Centers that include gymnasiums, exercise classrooms, meeting spaces, cafeterias and more. Today’s churches are a 7-days-a-week center of bustling activity and multiple uses. We have been contacted many times to solve soundproofing problems in Family Centers, from echo in the gym, to lack of privacy between meeting spaces.

A recent project involved echo reduction in the Family Center cafeteria. The space had a very low ceiling, the walls were sheetrock and the floor was covered in commercial vinyl tiles. With as many as 100 people in the cafeteria for meals, the noise levels were unbearable.

Our challenge was to reduce the echo so that activities in the cafeteria would be far more enjoyable. With a few pictures and dimensions of the room we used our reverberation software to determine how much sound-absorbing material would be needed to produce a measurable reduction in the echo. We offered the facilities committee three choices for products: sound baffles, sound absorbing ceiling panels, and fabric-wrapped wall panels. For a successful outcome, we needed to treat the ceiling and at least two perpendicular walls. Sound travels in a straight line until it hits something, so we wanted to absorb noise traveling up and down and side-to-side. We settled on ceiling absorbing panels for the 10’ ceiling, and fabric-wrapped panels for the walls. We didn’t need to cover 100% of the ceiling, so we settled on a simple pattern and avoided any areas with lights. For the wall panels, we decided that treating three of the walls would look best aesthetically, plus we could avoid the wall between the kitchen and the cafeteria. Again, we did a simple layout that avoided doors and windows. The church staff was able to handle the installation with a couple of handy members of the congregation and a little guidance from us. The white ceiling panels blended well and were barely noticeable. For the fabric panel color, we went with something a little brighter to add some appeal to the walls. The improved acoustics were immediately noticeable, and the activities in the cafeteria since the installation have been far more enjoyable.

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