The Museum of the Bible

Location: Washington, DC
Client: Clark Construction Group
Architect: Smith Group, JJR

The drywall and acoustical ceiling package at the Museum of the Bible was far from an ordinary scope of work.  In addition to Manganaro Midatlantic’s standard product lines, which include drywall & acoustical ceiling work, the Museum of the Bible project incorporated a number of scope items that are not often seen in other commercial buildings. These scope items include the following:

–     Fabric Wrapped Ceiling Panels

–     Venetian Plaster

–     Suspended Decorative Grids

–     Sound Isolated Ceilings & Walls

–     Acoustical Panel Ceilings (Baswaphon)

–     Ballistic Fiberglass Panels

–     Ceiling-Hung Picture Rails

–     Acoustically Engineered Ceilings (Decoustics)

One of the most important goals for this project was absorbing and blocking all outside sounds from the building’s surroundings, which proved to be an interesting challenge. Our close attention to detail went hand-in-hand with the rigorous responsibility of coordinating between multiple trades and managing vendors and subcontractors to meet the client’s expectations. Isolated ceilings were engineered for optimal performance, which required constant communication due to changes to the project. These specialty ceilings also required an extensive amount of pre-planning work.  This product was custom made with a high-level of precision, which pushed Manganaro to proactively address any issues that might arise prior to receiving the material. The fabric wrapped ceiling panels highlighted our craftsmanship and ability to modify finished products with a keen eye to detail. Panels were field-adjusted to work around all penetrations.

Apart from the sound aspect, the scope needed to incorporate certain products for support of exhibits and safety. A suspended decorative grid, which in this case was strut channel, was installed throughout the building to account for the loads and items that would be attached from the ceiling. The assembly of the strut channels included threaded rods and metal attachments to form an overhead structure. Engineered shop drawings were required to insure that the grid would support the loads imposed by future exhibit.  For any anticipated areas with larger loads, picture rails were installed to provide support for items up to 220 pounds. Building security was enhanced by ballistic fiberglass panels that were placed strategically placed to avoid a variety of threats.

Major Challenges:

  1. Ribbon Framing at Theater

At the Museum of the Bible, the theater was one of the most technically challenging designs we have ever had to build.  Above all, a sound isolated ceiling, designed to a very high standard, provides an ideal environment for the presentations. Beneath this ceiling are a series of drywall “ribbons” that are covered in a material that allows the projection of images onto them.  These theater ribbons are curved in multiple directions, creating a twisting and turning effect simultaneously.  The layout and dimensioning had to be spot-on in order for all the materials to fit together correctly. Full sized mockups were built and adjusted multiple times prior to the actual installation to try and pin-point any areas that could improve quality and productivity. We managed to improve our installation time significantly using a layout robot that translated the details from the drawings onto the finished work surfaces. We then were able to create templates on the drywall sheets in the shape of the ribbons before they were framed. Through calculated algorithms, we were able to manipulate the layout machine to give us the information needed.  The steel stud framing was then applied to the gypsum board rather than framing first.

  1. Baswaphon Material Install

Baswaphon Acoustical Plaster reduces significant reverberation, and is made of a mineral fiber which is then hand-troweled with a micro-porous coating. Baswaphon is rapidly expanding in the Architectural world, and Manganaro is pleased to say that we have successfully completed the largest Baswaphon job in the nation.  Tackling this large project didn’t come without its difficulties. Aside from the fact that Baswaphon is a new and upcoming product, training our employees to understand and install the product correctly was a challenge in itself. However, through constant training and on-site mentorship, we were able to successfully complete the project with minimal repairs. Baswaphon is a natural, hand-troweled product, which easily lends itself to improper installation and inconsistent leveling. Manganaro self-trained the expert finishers who completed the quality installation. We begin on the lower floor, which was the most difficult area due to the constant change of substrate heights and the number of finishing reveal beads.

  1. Manganaro’s Ability to Adapt

The 430,000 sf Museum of the Bible is a multi-million dollar construction project. This high profile job required Manganaro to adapt to the construction team’s needs, while still following all of our company protocols. The job itself had a strict deadline that could not be pushed back, a situation which can always create tension between parties. During construction there were many changes that arose without documentation or RFI references, but production had to be maintained in order to meet the schedule.  To solve the problems quickly and efficiently,  we would walk the site weekly, talk about any issues and agree to all changes made that week. This regular communication allowed us to maintain production and minimize both comebacks and conflict.

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