Focus on Acoustics: Acoustically Integrated aRchitecture (AIR)

For years, TA has worked to influence the building and construction trades by advocating for acoustically friendly design, and now we’ve given that practice a name: Acoustically Integrated aRchitecture (AIR).

AIR is a holistic best practice which, recognizing that the foremost purpose of buildings is to foster human community, seeks the optimal interface of disciplines for a result that supports the specific intended uses of the building. Recognizing their mutual goals for the structure, the architect and building designer team up with the acoustician/systems designer at an early conceptual stage of the project to make the most of their complementary expertise.

In practical terms, AIR is applied by envisioning a structure and its systems as a whole. Within that whole, architectural elements are aesthetically and functionally integrated with the technical systems that are key components of today’s buildings. Those components, while essential, also represent significant sources of noise: HVAC, mechanical systems, reinforced audio, plumbing. AIR practices minimize the possibility of noise fatigue by isolating or zoning areas of noise-generating components and activities from quiet areas, controlling the travel of noise from one area to the next, controlling the acoustic or reverberant buildup of sound, and controlling noise at its source. The desired result is a high-performing, human-made environment that facilitates community, communication and interaction – whether in an office, conference room, theater, house of worship, restaurant, family entertainment center, museum or medical office.

Another essential component of AIR is to take into account the acoustics, sightlines and lighting needs, and to design optimal presentation spaces within a building, with a view to the technology and audiovisual systems it will contain. Adding AV equipment to an existing space is often not as effective as taking an AIR approach and considering those factors as actually part of the building instead of a separate system.

TA manifests its commitment to AIR principles by actively reaching out to the building design and construction communities to share information and to assertively educate the industry about the role of acoustics. We do this through participation in trade associations, writing articles for online and print media, and conducting training and education sessions.