Acoustic Design for Chiesi’s LEED-certified Shanghai Office

Chiesi is an international, research-focused biopharmaceuticals group that develops and markets innovative therapeutic solutions in respiratory health, rare diseases, and specialty care. With over 85 years of experience, Chiesi is headquartered in Parma (Italy), operates in 31 countries, and counts more than 6,500 employees.

In 2022, Chiesi’s Shanghai office was renovated into a brand-new workspace to align with their global strategy for sustainability “Better Building”, in which it requires their new offices to be more efficient and sustainable, particularly with energy and CO2 emissions, ultimately aiming to become net-zero by 2035.

The new office layout encourages collaboration and teamwork, while environmentally and socially friendly features, specifically acoustic treatments, played a significant role in achieving LEED Gold certification for the revamped space.

Chiesi Farmaceutici's office in China

Chiesi Group’s new working space in Shanghai, China

The challenge: when acoustic design is not integrated at the early stage

An important component of achieving this certification was acoustic comfort,which represented 2 credits in LEED. Unfortunately, the client had not considered this aspect of the project before contacting us, leading to a real challenge when integrating acoustic solutions in the design.

As acoustic consultants, our goal is to integrate acoustics early in the project to achieve optimal results, reduce costs, and maintain the original design intent.However, when Chiesi approached us, the design had already been finalized, and construction was underway. Our team had to work within these constraints to develop a solution that met Chiesi’s needs.

The construction had advanced up to the partition concealment stage. Plasterboard partitions were covered on one side, hence limiting acoustic adjustments to the unfinished side.

Chiesi Farmaceutici's office in China

The view of Chiesie Office’s open working area

While this situation could have been perceived as a “hot potato” project, our teams truly enjoyed the brain racking process of finding acoustic improvement solutions feasible considering the time and on-site constraints:

  1. The existing design could not be changed.
  2. Solutions should be easy to be installed considering the construction progress.
  3. The cost impact should be minimized.

A close collaboration between acoustic engineers, clients, designers, and green building consultants

Despite this rough start, our team was able to work together with Chiesi, the design & build team Virtuarch, and LEED consultant TERAO to create a tailor-made approach that met the client needs and helped achieve the Better Building and LEED goals.

We started by conducting an acoustic analysis on the drawing package to determine whether the initial design met LEED requirements.

We discovered that some of their designs could meet the requirements from LEED, particularly the STC (sound transmission class, theoretical value tested by laboratory) of some partitions. However, since the partitions were not designed following acoustic principles, they allowed noise to transfer easily between rooms and could not guarantee adequate sound insulation performance.

From there, we developed a plan that included improvement on partition compositions, specific acoustic solutions to reduce noise leakage, and general principles for partition construction to ensure speech privacy between rooms.

Chiesi Farmaceutici's office in China

Private meeting rooms in Chiesi’s Office

Another challenge on the project came from the location of the smoke exhaust duct indicated on the MEP drawings which did not match with the on-site placement. The onsite constraint made it impossible to apply full-height partitions – a common acoustic mistake! To address this issue, we had to visit the site and review the entire project, adjusting our solutions wherever there were conflicts between the partitions and ductwork for the most sensitive rooms.

We also noticed that in the existing design, the reverberation treatment was not properly addressed. To meet LEED requirements and ensure user comfort, we proposed adjustments to the ceiling and wall materials that are easy to integrate and cost-effective. Virtuarch promptly responded to our requests and incorporated the acoustic recommendations into the design drawings.

In addition, the client had budget constraints, which limited the options for making changes. We collaborated closely with Chiesi and their partners to identify feasible solutions that could be implemented without causing delays or incurring additional costs for the work that had already been completed.

In the end, with an adaptive acoustic design approach, we succeeded in helping Chiesi to obtain the LEED certification while ensuring the speech privacy between spaces and offering a great overall acoustic comfort through the control of reverberation and background noise levels. 

Chiesi Farmaceutici's office in China

Listening comfort within Chiesi’s Office working space

Great sound ambience for Chiesi workspace’s sustainability and wellness

The Chiesi Shanghai LEED-certified office building is an excellent example of how a tailor-made acoustic approach can overcome challenges and achieve success. Despite the obstacles that Chiesi faced, our team was able to work with their partners to create a solution that met their needs and allowed them to achieve their goals.

Indeed, acoustic design is a crucial aspect of any building, particularly for LEED-certified projects. Although it may not be apparent at first glance, acoustic design can significantly impact people’s well-being and comfort!

If you’re considering a similar project, check out this similar office project of CP Group in Vietnam to see how we support our client to achieve the highest level of LEED Green Building standard!