Acoustics is one of the most overlooked factor in the designing of restaurants, bars, and clubs. It is influenced by many variables including arrangement, shape of the walls and ceilings, and construction materials and methods used. The challenge is to create an atmosphere that is lively enough to engage the patrons, while controlling over reverberant spaces and unnecessary noise levels.
An obvious noise source is generated by the patrons themselves. People talking and ordering can be compounded by other noise sources particularly in reverberant spaces. If it is difficult for patrons to hear each other, they tend to speak louder further raising existing noise levels. By adding absorption in key areas of the space through the use of acoustic products such as acoustic panels, stretch wall fabric systems, ceiling tiles, ceiling clouds, and baffles, sound waves are absorbed rather then reflecting off of the hard surfaces in the space, thus reducing noise levels. Adding absorption to a space can reduce sound levels up to 5 dBA.
It is becoming a common trend to incorporated kitchens in the main seating area of a restaurant to make it open and visible. Unfortunately this also makes the kitchen audible. Banging of dishes and employee chatter contribute to noise build-up in a restaurant. If kitchen noise is something that is not desirable, measures must be taken to block the sound from transmitting. Enclosing the kitchen will help mitigate the noise, however sound can also transmit through or over a wall. Utilizing vinyl noise barrier and resilient isolation clips in the construction of wall partitions will increase the STC of the wall and prevent both airborne and structure borne noise transmission. If a dropped ceiling is used and the walls do not extend all the way to the above structural deck or ceiling, replacing the standard ceiling tile with a high performance barrier ceiling tile will help stop noise from flanking over the walls.
Live or recorded music is a great way to engage patrons and create a fun and lively atmosphere. However, without proper acoustics it can add more noise to an already noisy space. Again, by adding the correct amount of absorption in the proper areas, patrons will hear the music coming from the live performers or speakers and not the reflections bouncing off of the walls, ceilings, and floors.
Mechanical and plumbing equipment can cause unwanted noise. A loud HVAC system is not only annoying, it will cause a build-up of noise and cause patrons to increase their noise level. Mechanical contractors should always keep noise levels in mind when specifying equipment to be installed in restaurants, bars, and clubs. For existing systems, adding duct silencers and pipe & duct lagging can reduce HVAC noise significantly. Large rooftop mechanical equipment such as cooling towers can transmit into the space as well as polluting the surround environment. This equipment must be mounted on properly rated vibration isolators to prevent structure borne noise transmission, and may need to be enclosed with an acoustic barrier system.
Noise from adjacent occupancies can have a negative impact on a restaurant, bar, or club, and visa versa. Common walls must be of sufficient mass to block sound transmission. Again, utilizing vinyl noise barrier and resilient isolation clips in the construction of wall partitions will increase the STC of the wall and prevent both airborne and structure borne noise transmission.
Restaurants, bars, and clubs with outdoor patios are a huge concern for surrounding residential neighborhoods. People will generally speak louder outdoors, and the addition of music compounds the problem. Installing exterior absorption panels to existing concrete and brick walls will absorb the reverberant noise reducing overall sound levels. Exterior composite barrier/absorber panels installed in critical areas where neighboring homes and businesses are in the direct field of the offending noise can mitigate sound levels significantly, but performance is dependent on the distance of the receiver and the height of the barrier wall.
In November 2013 Oeler Industries, Inc. was contacted by Bucco Architecture to install the Novawall Stretch Wall Fabric System in Altius Restaurant in the Mt. Washington section of Pittsburgh, PA. Oeler Industries, Inc. had completed a similar project for Altius’ owner at his Bistro 19 restaurant and he was very pleased with the results and called us back. The Novawall system was installed in the first floor dining area ceiling in March 2014, and was installed in the second floor dining area ceiling and wall area behind the bar in Apil 2014. The result was an acoustically pleasant atmosphere seamlessly integrated into the restaurant’s architectural design.