Acentech Completes Acoustical Design for EF Education First’s Expanded North American Headquarters

EF Education First_Credit Acentech Jeff FullertonCambridge, MA – Acentech announced that it provided architectural acoustics and mechanical system noise and vibration control for the new 300,000sf North American headquarters of EF Education First, the world leader in international education. Prominently located in the North Point area of Cambridge, Mass., EF’s 10-story headquarters offers panoramic views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines and the Zakim Bridge and provides access to the adjacent Charles River, public parks, and bicycle network.


Looking to create a bold new U.S. headquarters to serve more than 1,000 employees, EF engaged renowned Swedish architect Wingardh Arkitektkontor AB for the dramatic building design, which features a glass “waterfall” cutting through the building to illuminate an open 10-story atrium. Boston-based Wilson Architects was the architect of record for the building core and shell, and provided workspace design for the open plan office. Acentech collaborated with Wilson Architects to provide enhanced acoustical and sound isolation services for a variety of spaces, including the reception area, atrium, open workspace areas, closed offices, conference/meeting spaces, auditorium, cafeteria, and penthouse mechanical room.


“EF’s approach to open plan design is to provide as many flexible spaces for retreat as there are for high-energy interaction, so managing sound throughout the building was extremely important to us,” said Dana Santucci, vice president, development for EF Properties. “Thanks to our acoustical engineers, we are enjoying the unbelievable 360-degree views from the building’s unprecedented downtown location without sacrificing the benefits of a work environment that is quiet when it needs to be.”


Four unique building features contributed to the dramatic design, but presented acoustical challenges for the design team: 1) the top-to-bottom open glass atrium with unique glazing that visually represents a waterfall; 2) open and exposed structures for increased ceiling height; 3) raised floors for efficient air distribution; and 4) a new 200-seat, double-height auditorium overlooking the highway. The building’s prime location directly adjacent to a major highway artery also provided exceptional exposure for external noise.


Working with Wilson Architects, Acentech provided recommendations to address each issue, including:

  • upgraded glazing for the building façade to reduce the transmission of exterior noise;
  • acoustical finishes in the atrium for controlling the buildup of noise between the open floors and the staggered two-story meeting areas;
  • acoustical finishes for the exposed structural slabs; and
  • acoustical finishes to help control the buildup of noise in open workplace areas.

Acentech also consulted on sound isolation and privacy for the closed offices and 100 meeting rooms of various sizes.


Finally, Acentech helped to assess and address the concerns of exterior noise from the highway and an adjacent sand and gravel processing facility. The firm also consulted on noise and vibration isolation of the penthouse mechanical systems located directly above the executive offices, providing a floating floor solution under the mechanical system to address the issue.


Designed to achieve LEED® Silver certification, the project includes a riverside restaurant with outdoor seating, a salon, and three levels of above-grade parking. Skanska USA was the design-build contractor for the project, which was substantially completed in September 2014.