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Sound wall relieves construction noise for students

The view looking down from the scaffolding of the second floor of North Hall reveals a courtyard below. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES. See the full gallery here.


After causing discomfort among upper campus residents last year, the North Hall construction project continues ahead of schedule and without student complaints.

With the addition of a 32-foot sound wall, the noise should impact Sigma residents significantly less than last semester, said Brian Phillips, senior director of facilities management.


Toward the end of last semester Sigma residents met with facilities management and auxiliary services to discuss the effects of the construction that began in April. As a result of this conversation, residents with rooms facing the construction site received a $150 housing refund as compensation for the disruption.

Residents of Sigma, whose rooms faced the site last year, recall that their rooms shuddered from the intensity of the noise.

“It would literally shake and I would wake up to people leaning against my window,” said Jake Martin, junior biology major.

For some students the noise played a factor in whether or not they returned to live in Sigma this year. Junior human biology major and current Horton resident, Nathan Payton explains that in addition to other factors, he also took the noise into account as he was deciding where to live this year.  

“Upperclassmen housing was more of a consideration, but the construction was definitely something we talked about,” Payton said.

Testing of the sound wall built between Sigma and the construction site determined a 20 decibel difference from one side of the wall to the other, Phillips said. So far, the sound wall has made a significant improvement for Sigma residents, said Julia Stanton, Sigma Resident Director.

“The first week it was up I could tell a huge difference of how the noise affected the rooms on the construction side,” Stanton said.  

Although the wall minimizes noise for the rooms that face the construction, the large green wall also hinders sunlight from reaching those rooms.

“Actually, [the wall] works. I only hear it when I am listening for it. The only thing that’s annoying is that it blocks most of the light from coming in,” said Lauren McFarlen, sophomore elementary education major.

Some residents share that although the sound barrier does not erase all construction noise, the sound that does escape causes minimal discomfort.

“I am a heavy sleeper. Towards the beginning of the year I heard it, but now I sleep through it,” said junior nursing major Amy Garrison.


Sigma residents only have one more year of facing construction, as the project could be completed as early as June 2015, Phillips said. In addition to other amenities such as decks on each floor and a dining facility, North Hall will also have a certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Phillips said.

The U.S. Green Building Council administers the LEED program with certification based on meeting environmentally conscience building strategies. Talbot East was the first building on Biola’s campus to receive its LEED certification, North Hall will be the second.

“I think over the years we make little improvements as we learn things in designing buildings, and I think this one has got most things right,” Phillips said.

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