Acoustic Design Helps New York Tolerance Center

Sept. 1, 2004
The New York Tolerance Center (NYTC), New York City, is a multimedia training facility for educators, law enforcement officials, and state/local government workers. The 18,000-square-foot center is designed to inform these visitors, through interactive workshops, exhibits, and videos, about issues of prejudice, diversity, and cooperation in the workplace and community. Modeled after the Tools for Tolerance program at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, the NYTC is also a place where civic, religious, and cultural groups meet to discuss incidents of intolerance and how they can be averted.To provide maximum impact for the space, good design paired with good acoustics was essential. Acoustics firm Shen Milsom & Wilke, headquartered in New York City, worked closely with Seattle-based architect NBBJ throughout the space to ensure that the NYTC’s message comes through.The center is a series of spaces that establishes the many facets of intolerance and how they affect our daily lives. This culminates at the Hall of Memory, a theater where films depict instances of atrocities.To keep the films’ sounds within the hall, the center has acoustic tile for the ceiling and special finishes for the seats and floors. The half-height glass walls are specially sealed to keep noise levels outside to a minimum.Just outside the hall, the Point of View Diner uses brief film scenarios to introduce domestic and social issues. This space was also acoustically treated to ensure that any stray sound was absorbed.The Millennium Machine uses interactive technology to focus on global human rights issues. In this space, perforated metal acoustical material helps eliminate echoes and maintain clear audio from the sound system.The NYTC includes a classroom that may be divided into three smaller rooms. Acoustically treated operable walls provide privacy in each of the rooms, while the whole space includes treatment to walls and ceilings to provide a good learning environment.An 80-seat theater above the NYTC entry hall required special treatment to keep sounds from the entry area display from filtering into the theater. Because of the theater’s sophisticated sound system, it required special noise isolation from all of the adjacent spaces. Careful specification of the ceiling acoustical treatment, as well as acoustical panels on side and rear walls, accomplish this goal.U.S. Office Market Update 2004-Q2At long last, the U.S. office market gave a performance worthy of the name “recovery.” Vacancy fell, absorption rose, and rents moved closer to stabilizing.The vacancy rate dropped by 34 basis points to end the second quarter at 17.57 percent, the largest quarterly decline in 4 years. Thirty-two of 47 markets saw their vacancies drop. Eleven markets recorded vacancy declines of 100 basis points or more, led by Phoenix, San Jose, Austin, and Orange County – all with declines of at least 150 basis points. At the other extreme, Des Moines, Westchester County, and Kansas City saw their vacancies climb by more than 100 basis points.Net absorption rose to 16 million square feet in the second quarter, the largest volume of demand since fourth-quarter 2000. Washington, D.C. and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs led all markets with 2.6 million square feet absorbed, followed by New York City with 2.1 million and Northern and Central New Jersey with 1.7 million. Three of the next four markets are beaten-down tech hubs that are beginning to rebound: San Jose, Boston, and Austin. The amount of space completed during the second quarter totaled 6.8 million square feet, well below net absorption, which drove the vacancy rate lower. Space under construction totaled just less than 40 million square feet at mid-year. About one-quarter of the total is in metropolitan Washington, D.C., followed by Chicago with 4.1 million square feet and Philadelphia with 2.8 million square feet.The average asking rent for Class-A space ended the second quarter at $27.80 per square foot per year full service, down 11 cents from the prior quarter and 40 cents from a year ago. Tenants rule most markets, although concessions in the most sought-after properties and submarkets have begun to recede.Sublease space continues to diminish through a combination of signed subleases and lease expirations, ending the second quarter at 111 million square feet. This is down by 24 percent from the peak of 146 million square feet in first-quarter 2002, but remains well above the nadir of 33 million square feet in the third quarter of 1998.The market’s second-quarter performance, while good news for landlords, underscores the length of time required for conditions to return to equilibrium, defined as a vacancy rate of 10 percent. Assuming the market continues to soak up 16 million square feet per quarter, it will need 4 years to absorb the 254 million square feet of excess space accumulated during the recession and jobless recovery.Conditions will change slowly and are already changing as landlords begin to rescind concessions in the most desirable buildings and submarkets. On the investment side, demand for office properties is stronger than ever. Anticipation of improved leasing momentum seems to be outweighing investor fears of rising interest rates, at least for the time being.The fact that interest rates have retreated in the last few weeks on the heels of weaker-than-expected economic reports is contributing to this investor mindset. Interest rates will be higher a year from now than they are today, but if the pace of increase is gradual, the investment market should remain active with a wide range of buyers and sellers.Information from Bob Bach, National Director, Market Analysis, Grubb & Ellis Co., Northbrook, IL.Green News: What’s Now and What’s NextThroughout its 10-year history, the Washington, D.C-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been at the forefront of promoting the adoption of green building and sustainability. Now in its third year, Greenbuild has swiftly become the must-attend event for an industry continually embracing the concept. Featuring three days of exceptional educational programs and speakers alongside an expansive exhibit hall and sponsors, professionals can easily learn what’s now and what’s next in green building.Last year’s conference drew more than 5,200 professionals from 22 countries, including facilities managers; developers; architects and engineers; contractors; builders; interior designers; federal, state, and local governments; and product manufacturers – just to name a few. Join the USGBC November 10-12 in Portland, OR, for the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo. For more information, go to: (
IFMA Adds Industry & Interest Day to World Workplace
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA), headquartered in Houston, has now added an additional feature to its World Workplace line-up of two keynote speakers and more than 70 educational sessions. Industry & Interest Day will be held Sunday morning, October 17, to kick off the comprehensive three-day facility management conference in the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Oct. 17-19.Attendees will get additional value out of the World Workplace experience by attending targeted sessions of interest, such as “Guiding Your FM Career” and “Preventing the Train Wreck – Getting Your Training Program on Track.” Fourteen sessions will be offered, hosted by IFMA and its industry-specific councils, which represent the specialized interests of academic, public sector, healthcare, and manufacturing facilities; airports; corporate headquarters; research and development facilities; call centers; and banking institutions and credit unions. Other councils represent facility practitioners with special interests in corporate real estate, legal facilities and issues, facility management consulting, environmental health and safety, and information technology.The following is a sample of sessions that IFMA councils will present:Corporate Headquarters Council: “How to Measure and Show Value in Food Service.”Corporate Real Estate Council: “Controlling Corporate Leasing Costs.”Manufacturing Council: “The State of Security Today: What it Means to You, Your Business, and Your Community.”Museum & Cultural Institutions Council: “The Buzzword Blizzard – Shorthand or Snow Job?”Admission to Industry & Interest Day is included in the registration price for World Workplace. For more information about World Workplace, call (713) 623-4362, or e-mail ([email protected]).

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