Ironbound Award Announcement


Augmenting the positive feedback received from those who have spent time at the Ironbound Early Learning Center, D.W. Arthur Associates was recognized with an American Institute of Architects New Jersey Chapter Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture.

A visit to this center would reveal that the Ironbound Community Corporation's mission to support child development and families by providing access to high quality early education to the youngest members of the community is supported by a successful architectural design, and is evidenced by scenes of lively interactions between teachers, parents and children in the classrooms, lobby, play yards and hallways.

With direct connections to the outdoors through the two-level courtyard, the visually pleasing and light-filled spaces are enhancing the daily lives of the children and staff by providing ongoing interactions with the outdoors throughout the day.

While our true reward is the smile and engagement shown on each child's face, we are thrilled to announce that AIA NJ has acknowledged this achievement with a Merit Award in the "Built - Open" Category.  We would like to extend an additional thank you to the Ironbound Community Corporation, and their philanthropist donor, without whom we would not have had this opportunity.

Guest Post: 23 Decorative Acoustic Panel Ideas


We recently spoke with Kirei about various acoustic solutions as this is an integral part of the work we do.  Numerous studies over the years have discussed the benefits of controlling acoustics in various kinds of environments, from the workplace, to child care, and even residential homes.  Kirei has provided some ideas about the new and exciting ways acoustic solutions can be integrated into the design of a space, rather than as an afterthought, or plain application.  Because we strive to make great design and interesting spaces, we are sharing these ideas with you through this guest post by Kirei.  Enjoy!

Acoustic panels help reduce unwanted reflected sound in any room of your home or building (that’s what makes noisy restaurants or offices so bad). Until recently, however, many people were confined to utilitarian panels that didn’t do much for the rest of the décor. With decorative acoustic panels in your home or office, you can make a statement while you insulate for sound at the same time. These 23 decorative acoustic panel ideas will help give you an idea of just what’s possible.


1. Turn Your Walls into a Functional Work of Art

Who says that walls need to be flat? These curved acoustic panels interlock with one another to form a diamond pattern on the wall. They clip into place easily so you can even rotate and change the direction of the pattern at any time, making the walls of your conference room into a work of art.


2. Lower Sound and Raise Your Style with Flowing Wave Tiles

With color and texture as one, you can absorb sound just about anywhere. These decorative Wave tiles come in neutral bold colors like the orange tiles seen here, and can be arranged in a variety of different patterns to make it seem as though your walls and ceilings are fluid. By installing the same pattern across the ceiling and then down the wall, it gives the appearance that these panels are flowing through the room.

3. Walls as Formal as Your Next Black Tie Event

Sometimes less is more. With these Rise tiles, you get the clean lines you’ve come to expect from sound absorbing materials, but with a subtle texture and overlap that make the wall stand out. Emphasize the pattern with color, or leave it in classic white for a more formal look.

4. Strong, Subtle, and Perfectly Suited to Any Viewing Area

A dark-colored or subtle backdrop is important in viewing situations, but that doesn’t mean that your walls need to be blank. These Dune acoustic tiles with their diamond pattern help bring a subtle texture and interest to the wall. With their matte finish, they won’t take attention away from what you’re viewing, while at the same time they’ll enhance the rest of your décor.

5. Get Sticky with It and Lower Sound in Style

Create unique visual looks from traditional to contemporary with peel-and-stick hexagonal acoustic tiles. Hexagons are a classic shape that have graced walls and floors for decades. Lay them in a traditional flower or checker pattern, or create a simple, yet dramatic statement in bold colors and an ombre effect while you reduce echo and reverberation within your space.

6. Let Pattern Play Become the Focus; Not Unnecessary Sound

If you like puzzles, you’ll love playing around with peel-and-stick Geometry tiles. Take basic shapes like squares, rectangles, and triangles, and arrange them in your own unique pattern. Create a wall that is as simple or complex as you want; either way the tiles will still function to help cut down on unwanted noise and reverberation.

7. Let’s Get Personal with Customizable Panels

Get a completely unique and personalized appearance for your home or business by cutting the panels with a table saw, water jet, or knife. Rigid acoustic panels are able to be cut and shaped into any design. Interlock two different colors together to get a personalized design that can still help control the acoustics in your space.

8. Simple, Bold, and Uniquely Yours

You don’t need to have an art degree to come up with interesting or artistic patterns to cut into your panels. Their rigid nature makes it easy to cut even simple geometric shapes that can enhance the look and style of any room. Now you can create a decorative acoustic panel DIY project that will look and function perfectly when you’re done.

9. When You Need to Get Away from It All

Sometimes you don’t need a room to be quiet at all times; you only need a temporary area that may change location from time to time. With a modular Wrap Panel system, you can quickly erect a quiet, sound insulated area anywhere you are, so you can get your work done in the peace you need.

10. Make Sound Cease to the Be the Reason You Can’t Study

Carrels, study desks, and office cubicles are all areas that can benefit from a little acoustic control. These attractive panels attach easily with clips or magnets to desks, benches, and other areas so you can create the perfect work environment in no time.

11. Not Your Grandfather’s Dropped Ceiling

Drop ceilings are common in offices and basements, but does anyone really like the way they look? These decorative raised panels fit into the same ceiling grid that traditional drop ceiling tiles do, but they add a lot more dimension and interest to the space, while calming the acoustics of the space and increasing privacy.

12. Urban, Industrial, and Seamlessly Intuitive

Urban spaces such as lofts often have trouble with echoes and carrying sound. And more traditional acoustic paneling doesn’t match the style or the feel of the space. These decorative acoustic sound panels are made to look like corrugated metal, however, making the perfect complement to Urban and industrial style spaces, while helping to reduce some of the noise that can echo in these open spaces.

13. Make Child’s Play Out of Insulating Rooms

Who says that acoustical panels need to adhere directly to your walls or ceiling? This children’s museum makes great use of custom-cut panels adhered to MDF and suspended from the ceiling to help keep sound where it belongs, while also providing a fun and geometric aspect to the room design.

14. Raise the Aesthetics while You Lower the Sound

Ceilings are one of the most common places to install acoustical paneling, because of the way that it helps dampen sound echo throughout the room. By installing these decorative acoustic ceiling panels as “fins” or baffles, however, you can not only enhance the acoustics of the room, you can also create a visually appealing design as well.

15. Elegant, Functional, and Everywhere You Want to Be

Acoustical panels don’t need to cover the entirety of your walls or ceiling to be effective. Nor do they need to attach directly to those areas. With the EchoSky Curved system, you can choose the areas you want to help enhance the acoustics in, then suspend the unique curved panels for a visual impact as well.

16. Create a Room James Bond Would Be Proud Of

Removing the echo from a conference room is can be a difficult job. In this case, covering the walls and ceiling with acoustic panels can not only create a clean, streamlined look for the space, it can also enhance the sound quality during your overseas video conference calls as well.

17. Have Your Patterned Cake and Eat It in Silence, Too

Never have to choose between visual and sound design again with patterned acoustical panels. Now you can enhance the looks and style of any room, while you help enhance the sound patterns of your space with screenprinted panels that can complement any space – from a traditional living room to a modern night club.


18. Create an Office that Makes You Want to Come to Work Each Day

Working in an office cubical will never be boring again when you use patterned acoustical panels as an insulator around the desk. Patterned panels come in a variety of different colors and styles so you can enhance cubical and desk areas both visually and acoustically at the same time.

19. Think Outside the (Light) Box

If traditional acoustical paneling won’t fit into the space, why not add it in unconventional ways? In this case, the panels surround the hanging light fixture to help absorb sounds in the room and improve its use both acoustically and visually.

20. Form and Function Finally Become One

No walls? No problem. Decorative sound absorbing panels in a variety of bold prints and colors can be used to create functional shelving that can help to delineate a space, while helping to quiet sound. The panels can also be easily changed out and replaced to update the look of the shelving as time goes by.

21. Make the Color of Your Walls the Loudest Thing in the Space

Traditional hard surfaces that are typically used in conference rooms often provide a lot of echo. Specially curved, decorative, textured acoustic panels not only help enhance the looks of the room, they also provide a lot of sound absorption to make the space more functional audibly as well.

22. Greet Clients in High Style

Make a visual impact instead of an audible one. These decorative acoustic wall panels are definitely not what you’re used to seeing. Bold-colored Wave tiles will make your lobby stand out from the crowd, while ensuring that there is perfect sound absorption so you can greet clients with ease.

23. Welcome to the Future of Sound

When it comes to acoustics, sound absorption is key. So if you don’t want to add acoustical paneling to your walls, ceiling, or even light fixtures, consider adding it to your seating. This chair is made up entirely of acoustical paneling, which has a rigid base, but soft feel to the hands. Held together with simple elegant hardware, this chair will help improve your posture and your acoustics at once.

Acoustics are crucial to good business and a comfortable home life. Don’t settle for plain panels ever again; now you can get the looks, style, and sound absorption you want all at the same time with decorative acoustic panels.

Article provided by Kirei USA

Romans invade Wanaka!!! Figure/Ground: Courtyard house in landscape

"keep your eyes on the road!" is often heard in the car when i'm at the wheel, and somewhat more so when driving on left side of the road in a manual shift diesel rental on the narrow New Zealand roads.  I tend to rubberneck to see not only the landscape but also any eye-catching buildings.   So it was when we motored around Wanaka, a growing community in a stunning landscape in the Southern Alps at the shore of the lake of the same name.  There are quite a few unique "bachs" (rhymes with 'hatches') hatching along the lake; some clearly designed by inspired architects.  

"Roman Atrium" house with corner entrance

"Roman Atrium" house with corner entrance

Axonometric of atrium house with in-sloping roofs at courtyards

I pulled the truck over to check out one under construction, a clearly articulated rectangular volume with an inverted hip roof sloping inward to a central courtyard from high perimeter walls.  The scheme immediately recalled Roman atrium houses, organized around a central court with an impluvium, though made of red wood cladding and metal roofing, rather than stucco and red quarry tile.  One corner of this tight rectangle is left open, revealing the inner courtyard and entrance, and providing garage access at the flat ends of each wing.  While most bachs are compact volumes organized with interior spaces focused on views to the spectacular surrounding landscape, this building adopts the inwardly focused model of spaces organized around a central courtyard.  Like a Roman house, the exterior walls are tall and mostly opaque, allowing for abutting houses to share a party wall, while maintaining privacy.  Daylight in Roman houses was mostly admitted via openings in exterior walls to the inner courtyard, or atrium.  


"You're trespassing again!" came calling after me as i walked up to have a closer look (another habit that sometimes annoys my fellow travelers).  Yes, i thought, but it's under construction and noone is here, and i can plead innocent architectural curiosity, no?  Instead of simple impluvium and planting urns sporting young carved nymphs, the courtyard was in process of becoming a more complex environment with concrete walls and steel frames - I'll want to return to find out what they become.  But more striking was the transparency, not into the interior rooms, but through them to the landscape beyond.  

Transparency from courtyard through spaces to landscape beyond.

Transparency from courtyard through spaces to landscape beyond.

Roman house courtyard with peristyle colonnade and in-sloping roof.

Roman house courtyard with peristyle colonnade and in-sloping roof.

So, unlike the rooms in the Roman house which open only onto the atrium or courtyard, this home wants to have it all.  the intimacy and privacy of an enclosed court and the extensive sweeping views of a modern villa.  The tension between these two powerful types becomes evident when i toured around the sides of the building away from the street and towards the landscape beyond.  here the taut vertical siding starts to erode and reveal transparent glass.  The erosion and inversion of wood to glass is nearly complete as the wall reaches the furthest corner.


Wanaka Bach with opaque "party wall" progressively eroded towards  outer corner and  views.

Wanaka Bach with opaque "party wall" progressively eroded towards outer corner and views.

Does it work?  One of the powerful aspects of the Roman house is the clear distinction between public and private and it's reinforcement in the architecture.  In a dense urban fabric, an atrium house might have one relatively mute facade facing the public street, with a public entrance.  Passing through a compact entrance, and relatively dark flanking spaces, one is focussed on the atrium, open to the sky.  The simplicity of bright sky and relative quiet must be in high contast to the noisy, chaotic public street, rendering a level of calm associated with a private house.  For those admitted deeper, the central courtyard with surrounding peristyle was probably even quieter and more serene.  with a interior rooms ranged around the court. the gradation of interior to exterior, dark to light, and private to public would take on a more subtle but still powerful presence.

I wonder whether these characteristics, fundamental to the architectural language of the atrium type, are so diluted in the Wanaka bach as to render the basic moves questionable.  For example, do the higher ceilings at the perimeter afforded by the roof pitch make for better spaces?  do higher volumes with pervasive glazing at the perimeter undermine the power of the courtyard?  I would love to go back and knock on the door and see if the owners will forgive my trespasses and let me have a look around the finished beauty.