Pushing the Boundaries in Ceiling Design

Hello, my name is Jim Church and I am the Sales Manager – North America for Decoustics Ltd., a division of CertainTeed Ceilings.

ChicagoArtInstituteLight and acoustics are certainly key elements in a building project, but when you are showcasing valuable artwork, they are most critical.

The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop along with architect of record, Bob Larson, Interactive Design, Inc, Chicago provided a special opportunity to expand our capabilities as a ceiling manufacturer. The new wing consists of six separate, distinct exhibit spaces that encompass 264,000 square feet. The innovative use of ceilings and wall panels for optimum light and sound absorption in the design created a unique challenge for our team.

This project required the use of a custom manufacturer to develop solutions for designs that pushed all boundaries of the commercial ceiling industry, specifically in the areas of size of panels, accessibility and translucency.

The project design called for the creation of ceiling panels 40% larger than the standard panel (over 14’ long.) A requirement for accessibility forced new thinking in what was possible with panels of that size. 

Vellum (scrim) translucent panels were the fourth of a four-part building design that Renzo Piano developed to bring natural, north light into the museum’s main galleries. The flying carpet structural canopy, the glass roof, an ultraviolet layer and then Decoustics vellum panels completed this design.

After months of product development we were able to create solutions that tackled the unique engineering aspects of stretched vellum, aluminum frames, unique invisible stabilizers, colossal panel sizes and accessibility.

The design of the exhibits required meticulous installation to ensDecoustics ceiling in Chicago Insititute of Arture proper alignment of the ceilings with the walls. The Claro® ceiling panels installed in the building offer superb sound absorbing properties and provide for the infiltration of natural light without exposing conduit, piping and mechanical systems installed above the ceiling panels. Quadrillo® ceiling panels were installed in the main conference room, bringing a warm aesthetic to the modern design. 

No other manufacturer in our industry has the product range, engineering capabilities and proven accessible ceiling systems to have tackled such a project.

This project has received a great deal of attention including a large article in Architectural Record and a video from a recent visit to the museum by McGraw Hill Construction.

It was an honor working with Renzo Piano and Interactive Design on such a prestigious project.