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Wide Open Privacy

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The lobby of the OENE facility gives an initial glimpse of the quiet, open space.BOSTON, MA-A short walk from both the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the new Institute for Contemporary Art, Office Environments' New England (OENE) facility is a 30,000-square-foot space showcasing architectural, furniture, and technology products. Designed by Childs Bertman Tseckares, OENE consists of showroom space, plus conference rooms, and an open lobby area. Among the most dramatic features of the facility are: a large room for mockups set off by a 15-foot chain-link curtain, breakout rooms, and an employee lounge with stunning views and a telescope. Most of the showroom is occupied by workstations in an open plan.

The New England showroom was built around the OE's "AFT" strategy: architectural, furniture, and technology products. The company's Architectural and Design Community Relations team supports design professionals by building closer working relationships with A&D firms throughout New England and facilitating communication between a firm, OE sales, and manufacturers' reps. The showroom appeals directly to facility owners in education, healthcare, and biotech.

Technology is on display everywhere: electronic whiteboards, plasma screens, projectors, video conferencing, AV control systems, temperature and lighting control systems are represented from companies such as Lightolier, Tandberg, PolyVision, Crestron Mitsubishi, LG, Crestron, Sony, and Atlas Sound.

The showroom also contains Steelcase 14-inch raised flooring for easy access to underfloor HVAC, wiring and cable, demountable walls, and a range of furniture and accessories from Steelcase, Brayton, Details, and PolyVision.
"One of the challenges in presenting technology in this space," said OENE systems designer, Mike Paquin, "was that by nature, it was all about the look, and furniture basically ran the show." As a result, Paquin had to do some things that he would not ordinarily do in a commercial working environment. "We used a lot of wireless, for workstations as well as keyboards, to achieve an uncluttered look."

One piece of technology that Paquin employed is so unobtrusive that it's virtually undetectable: a sound masking system from Atlas Sound, employed to improve the noise level in the facility and to protect the confidentiality of conversations.

"Initially, I was skeptical that this would really work," admitted Paquin, regarding masking private conversations. "But when the system is off, you can hear a conversation through the conference room doors. Switch the system on, and you can't hear anything."

More than 60 Atlas Sound FAP62T and FAP42T ceiling speakers, and M1000 (8-inch sound-masking speakers) are installed throughout the facility. The digital sound-masking generator is a GPN1200B from Atlas Sound.

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