A newly built office in Milton, Ont. brings together four divisions’ people and products into one building for the first time. Each day, members of the North American Rockfon team gather with their colleagues from Roxul, Grodan and Rockwool Technical Insulation (RTI). The active workspace also serves as a real-world showroom for Rockfon’s complete ceiling systems.
Every space in the two-story, 24,000-square-foot office strives to enhance the work environment on a visual, acoustic and energy-efficient level. Demonstrating its commitment to these goals, the building is LEED Gold certified from the Canadian Green Building Council.
“Living with these products every day, we truly see, hear and feel how they improve the workplace – our workplace. We more deeply appreciate the comfort, health, safety and environmental qualities that they bring to every building project,” says Chris Marshall, Rockfon’s vice president of marketing and business development. “When you’re the owner and building new, you have the opportunity to design a space that best represents your product and company without the constraints of an existing structure. We had a blank canvas, which allowed us to get creative. We used a full range of products, sizes, colors and materials, ceiling systems for open and closed plenum, and featured a breadth of aesthetic options.”
Rockfon worked hand-in-glove with SRM Architects and interior designer Lorelie Ratz to develop a contemporary office plan that plays to the strengths of its products’ performance and aesthetics. “Their office is a showpiece for their products, and we incorporated as many varieties as possible, while still making it a cohesive space,” describes Ratz.
Ryan Hicks, project manager, SRM Architects, elaborates, “From an architectural point of view, there is more of a design aspect to Rockfon’s products than most acoustical ceiling panels. They add a very polished, elegant finish to the space, and we were able to achieve certain looks that I’m not sure you’d be able to do with a traditional system. They are definitely a unique product and not just another iteration of the standard ceiling system.”
“We love it,” says Bruce Wilbee, project manager with Canaan Construction Inc. who installed the drywall and ceiling systems. “It cut well and has a nice edge. It was easy to work with and looks good.”
Involved early in the project’s development, Canaan Construction Inc. installed the drywall and ceiling systems. This was their crew’s first experience with Rockfon’s ceiling systems. Because Rockfon’s stone wool ceiling panels are humidity-resistant, they could be installed before the building was weather-tight, which expedited the construction timeline. Construction began in May 2014 and was substantially completed in December 2014.
“In developing our new offices, we had a systematic approach,” states Marshall. “We considered the performance of the whole room with respect to its function, its position within the building and its connection to adjacent rooms. This perspective allowed us to consider the best design options for carrying natural light into the building’s core, as well as for managing noise within and between adjacent rooms.”
As examples, Marshall says, “We were able to use ceiling panels with a very high light reflectance coupled with glass partition walls to help direct the natural light from the building’s exterior through the closed office along the perimeter and into the open offices at the center of the floor plan.”
To inhibit office noise from traveling through an open space and disturbing people, a highly sound absorptive ceiling typically is required. Due to its open porous structure, stone wool is a high-performing, sound-absorptive material used to manufacture Rockfon ceiling panels, baffles and islands and imbued with excellent noise reduction capabilities.
Along with acoustic performance, Rockfon’s ceiling systems also enhance the office’s contemporary design. The president’s private office features Rockfon Sonar1-by-6-foot panels set in a staggered, brickwork pattern for distinctive, distinguished look.
Creating a sense of unity, the ceiling design continues the rectangular format between the closed and open workspaces. Varying from the other closed offices’ 2-by-4-foot ceiling panels, a 2-by-8-foot panel appears in the open plan office area. The ceilings in these areas incorporate both a Chicago Metallic 4000 Tempra9/16-inch exposed suspension system and a 4600 Ultraline1/8-inch reveal Bolt Slot system.
“A 2-by-4 grid is the type of look that you will find in many office spaces,” comments Ratz. “We have altered that standard format in the open office area by using 2-by-8 panels with an exposed grid, in a staggered pattern. It’s still typical of an office, but uses a non-typical size. It’s nice to see something different and still works very well with the 2-by-4 recessed lighting.”
Lighting also was key in making the reception area a welcoming space. Presenting an impressive introduction, Rockfon Alaska2-by-2-foot panels are installed in 4000 Tempra 9/16-inch Exposed suspension system and finished with Infinityspecialty metal perimeter trim. “The Alaska panels convey a cool elegance with a smooth surface that enhances and reflects the light. The custom clouds are positioned perfectly to allow the pendant lighting to delicately drop between them,” praises Marshall.
In the “Escarpment” large group training room, Rockfon Island products and Alaska ceiling tiles formed into clouds to deliver the acoustic performance essential to training. Floating in a dramatic display, the training room’s islands and clouds are hung at different elevations to create a three-dimension, asymmetrical array against a recessed dark background composed of Rockfon Color-allpanels finished in Clay.
Understated in comparison to the training room, the boardroom also uses Color-all Clay panels and islands for privacy and comfort. “The board room is one of my favorite spaces with its dark, earthy gray ceiling panels and suspended white islands,” shares Marshall. “Throughout the office, our palette of clay, grays, white and beiges tie everything together with the occasional pop of color.”
In the second floor cafe, the Color-All ceiling panels’ Chili color and bright white Sonar panels match with the corporate brand colors of Roxul, an affiliate company to Rockfon. In the main cafeteria, where employees from all four affiliated companies gather, Rockfon Intaline4-inch V-base metal baffles finished in Satin Silver give the room a focal point that seems to raise the height of the ceiling by drawing the eye upward.
Rockfon’s metal ceiling baffles, panels and suspension systems can be specified with recycled content, contain no reportable volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the finished products, and are 100 percent recyclable at the end of their lifecycle. Rockfon’s stone wool ceiling products also are made with up to 42 percent recycled material. The Canadian Green Building Council’s LEED scorecard recognizes these environmental benefits under Materials and Resources for recycled content and regional materials.
Along with recycled content, LEED criteria also acknowledge the environmental and health benefits associated with acoustic comfort, light reflectance, energy-efficiency, indoor air quality (IAQ) and durability. Stone wool outlasts most typical building materials, including steel, when subjected to fire. It withstands temperatures up to 2150ºF (1177ºC). It does not melt, burn or create significant smoke, which improves overall fire safety and limits building damage.
Further protecting workers’ health and safety, Rockfon’s stone wool ceiling panels help improve IAQ in offices. Stone wool offers no nutritional value, making it naturally resistant to harmful bacteria and molds that cause skin infections, pneumonia and other airborne illnesses. Rockfon’s extensive portfolio of stone wool acoustic ceiling solutions has earned UL Environment’s GREENGUARD Gold Certification for low-emitting products.
“The health benefits of improved IAQ and increased natural light in the workplace include higher productivity and fewer lost workdays, as well as a more positive morale,” says Marshall. “Compared with traditional, porous-surface acoustic ceiling panels that absorb and trap light, the surfaces of Rockfon’s ceiling panels are exceptionally smooth. Extending the amount of natural daylight available across the building minimizes demand on electrical lighting, lowers potential emissions, preserves diminishing natural resources and reduces energy cost for us as the building owner.”
Rockfon’s new offices are calculated to perform with an energy target of <100 ekWh per square meter, which is approximately 75 percent better than a typical Canadian office building.
“As the owner and the occupant, we are fortunate to have a long-term perspective with consideration to wanting what’s best for the people who work in the office and for the community around us,” adds Marshall. “We’re proud to provide our employees with exceptional comfort, health and safety. It’s a genuine pleasure to welcome visitors to a building where they can see how impressive our products look and experience how they perform. We are fully living our brand promise to ‘create and protect’ every day we come to work.”
ROCKFON/ROXUL North American offices; 8024 Esquesing Line, Milton, Ontario, L9T 6W3 Canada
- Owner: ROXUL Inc.; Milton, Ontario; http://www.roxul.com
- Architect: SRM Architects Inc.; Kitchener, Ontario; http://www.srmarchitects.ca
- Interior designer: Lorelie Ratz; Puslinch, Ontario
- Mechanical, electrical, energy and sustainability consultant: MMM Group Limited; Kitchener, Ontario; http://mmmgrouplimited.com
- General contractor: Stahle Construction Inc.; Kitchener, Ontario; http://www.stahlecon.com
- Installing contractor: Canaan Construction Inc.; Guelph, Ontario; http://www.canaanconstruction.ca
- Ceilings – manufacturer: ROCKFON; Chicago; http://www.rockfon.com
- ROCKFONSonardB, Sonarand Alaskaacoustic stone wool ceiling panels in White
- Color-allacoustic stone wool ceiling panels in Clay and Chili
- CubeGridmetal ceiling products in Black
- Islandacoustic stone wool ceiling products in White
- InfinityZ Razor edge perimeter trim in Satin Silver
- IntalineBaffle and Planarmetal ceiling products in Satin Silver
- Chicago Metallic4000 Temprain White and Satin Silver, 1200 in White and 4600 Ultraline in White and Satin Silver
- Photographer: Bochsler Creative; Burlington, Ontario