Bluefin Robotics, a designer and manufacturer of undersea robots, moved its Massachusetts company headquarters from Cambridge to a larger facility in Quincy. The new space, a 54,000 square foot former shipyard warehouse, better supports Bluefin’s continued growth, and features exposed ceilings, large windows, and antique hardwood floors. A full renovation was required to suit Bluefin’s needs while ensuring employee productivity for all departments.
While brimming with character, the Quincy facility’s antique hardwood floors, exposed girder ceilings, and walls posed some acoustical problems. The surfaces were reflective, meaning sound travelled easily and created noisy distractions. Determined to alleviate any issues in the office, various acoustical products were incorporated into the design, including sound-absorbing tiles and electronic sound masking.
Sound masking is a uniform background sound added to a space via a network of small, ceilingmounted speakers, creating a more comfortable environment by obscuring many typical workplace sounds, including conversations, from being overheard. Bluefin maximized installation efficiency and cost-effectiveness by implementing the sound masking system during the renovation phase when the ceiling was open and easily accessible.
Biamp’s small, direct field Qt® Emitters were the best choice for the varied ceiling heights and industrial space types. The speakers are easily installed in ceiling tile, plaster, beams, or other structural elements. The size and complexity of Bluefin’s environment required four separate sound masking zones, each with unique volume settings. To accommodate these needs, a Qt® 600 control module was chosen.
Employee Rik DeLeonardis accessed the Qt® 600 from his personal computer and adjusted levels for each zone, noting, “the beauty of the system is that once it’s set, you don’t have to interact with it again.” Today, the Qt® 600 system successfully ensures privacy and productivity in many functional areas of Bluefin’s office, including engineering, finance, administration, and other departments, plus public areas adjacent to private spaces. The consistent, unobtrusive background sound is highly effective and barely noticeable.
Bluefin CEO David Kelly acknowledges QtPro™ as a valuable part of his facility’s design. “The cost of the system was minor to achieve the environment we wanted,” said Kelly. Bluefin employees are pleased with the new space and feel that sound masking makes it easier to work collaboratively. Engineer Robert Panish describes his workspace as “pleasant,” and feels that sound masking helps isolate employees from distracting surroundings.
When the system was recently turned off to install new equipment, a software engineer remarked how much noise he could now overhear, and to what extent sound masking is needed in order to ensure Bluefin’s employees can achieve their best results.