CEILING OF 2017 DESIGN FOR CONSUMERS WITH STUDIO APARTMENTS
May 4, 2007
Team 8, Section 8
The team was chartered by Armstrong World Industries and Penn State University to redesign a ceiling system.
The team began by choosing to focus on studio apartments in an urban setting. The team members conducted
customer interviews and analyzed the customer needs. Once the team had a relative understanding of the project, the
TRIZ method was used to clearly state the problem and possible ways to fix the current drawbacks. The team then
focused on background research by means of literature and patent reviews. They also used benchmarking to study
existing designs and models. Once the research was complete, the team was able to generate and select concepts for
the final design. By using Pugh charts, the most effective ceiling system design was selected. The final design
included drop down Armstrong acoustical ceiling panels. The panels would be white, while the background ceiling
is a dark blue, to give the illusion of more space. The panels were held in place by metal wires. To add strength to
the drop down panels, a wood backing was added to each individual panel. Lighting is incorporated into some of the
tiles, but not all to cut down on energy costs. To maximize the spread of light throughout the room, a parabolic light
mirror was installed in the lighting panels. The design is also flexible to allow for technology features, such as a Wi-
fi router or built in speakers to be added. The final design is relatively easy to install. Not only is it extremely
modular and customizable, but it also gives the feeling of spaciousness. The design is highly adaptable to different
studio apartments for many different consumers and also reduces energy costs.
Armstrong World Industries is the leading industry of ceiling design and manufacturing. They continue to gain
in every aspect of a business, including market share, profit, and customer satisfaction. In order to remain the best,
they continue to perform research of the next best product. Armstrong World Industries has asked the Engineering
Design and Graphics class of Penn State University to help them by coming up with the next design, product, or
Management for this task is performed through group collaboration. This group of four Penn State engineers
will perform customer evaluations and compose a customer needs chart and compile that with information gathered
through research to come up with a cutting edge design. The team will then present the design through this report, a
presentation, and graphics.
Through research of Armstrong World Industries’ materials, nearly 90% of Armstrong Industries’ Products
focus on the commercial sector. (Getting to Know You – PSU.ppt) That leaves an even larger market, residential,
untouched. Such a large transition may be difficult, but the team found a hybrid of the two markets to ease the
transition. With a focus on studio apartments, the team is able to open up the residential market to Armstrong World
Industries while using the resources that Armstrong already is on the cutting edge of. Armstrong World Industries
pride themselves on their cutting edge acoustic ceilings, strong emphasis on safety and the environment, increase of
lighting, purifying air quality, fire resistant, ease of assembly, and technological advancement, including hidden
speakers and wireless internet, all of which plague apartment complexes.
This report reflects such work and its processes. It starts with the given problem statement, then continues to
customer needs research, literature and patent research and benchmarking. The problem was then clarified using the
TRIZ method and a black box model. Once all the background research was completed, the team generated
concepts. They used Pugh charts to select the best concepts to use for the final design, which is described in the
finals sections of the report.
1.1 Initial Problem Statement
The initial problem was to design the ceiling system that will be over your head ten years from now. A few main
aspects of the design process were to think about how to make that space over your heads more valuable, more
useful, and more functional to the target market. Many problems could possibly arise during the design process and
the team had to take these troubles into account. The design must encompass not only the highest standards of
design, but also functionality and safety. The team chose to redesign a studio apartment ceiling in an urban setting.
Armstrong World Industries is currently trying to expand into the residential market, and this design will help them
to get a head start on their move.
2.0 Customer Needs Assessment
In order to come up with creative design solutions to the engineering of a ceiling that would be above the heads
of consumers in ten years, the team conducted a consumer needs assessment. The team had to make sure that the
design concepts coincided with the wants and needs of the city dwelling studio apartment owners in order to create
an effective and profitable design. Because of this, each member of the team interviewed three individuals that
owned apartments. These people had first hand experience as apartment owners so they would be the best source of
information on what to include and what not to include in a newly engineered ceiling. These people were asked
general questions asking what they liked about their current ceiling, what problems they have in their apartment that
could potentially fixed by a newly designed ceiling, and what they would specifically like to see in a new ceiling
design. The results were compiled by the team and placed in the table below.
Table 1. Initial Consumer Needs List Obtained from Individual Interviews with Potential
Acoustic elements to cut down on noise from above
Interchangeable panels of different styles for different areas
Odor reducing material
Coating to reduce bacteria
Easy to hang objects on ceiling
Appealing to the eye
Modern design in terms of appearance
Keeps heat in the apartment
Natural light filtered into apartment space
Easy to clean
Reduce noise from interior and exterior sources
Provides ample lighting for entire space
Must contain lighting fixtures
Air conditioning system
With the completion of the initial consumer needs list, the team organized their findings into a hierarchal
objectives list. This list would provide the group with the ability to view the consumer needs in an organized way.
It would group the consumer needs into broad categories that the group could then work with. It would also list the
needs in terms of objectives or attributes the ceiling should have, functions or abilities the ceiling should do, and
constraints that the design would be limited with. The hierarchal objectives list is presented below.
Table 2. Hierarchal Objective List Constructed from Consumer Needs List for a Ceiling
1.1 Fire retardant
1.2 Water resistant
1.4 Coating to reduce bacteria
C.2 Smoke detectors
2. Air Control
2.1 Odor reducing material
2.3 Good ventilation
2.4 Ceiling fan
2.5 Air conditioning system
2.6 Heating system
F.1 Purifies air
F.2 Keeps heat in apartment
3.1 Recessed lighting
3.2 Natural light filtered into apartment space
F.3 Provides ample lighting for entire space
C.3 Must contain lighting fixtures
4.1 Accepts paint
4.2 Interchangeable panels of different styles for different areas
4.3 Appealing to the eye
4.4 Modern design in terms of appearance
4.5 Bright colors
5. Noise Reduction
5.1 Acoustic elements to cut down on noise from above
F.4 Reduces noise from interior and exterior sources
6.1 Easy installation
6.2 Easy to hang objects on ceiling
6.3 Easy to clean
C.4 Energy efficient
C.5 Reasonable cost
2.1 Weighting of Consumer Needs
Once the objectives that would be considered in the redesign of the ceiling were compiled and organized, the
group had to weight them. It was essential that the group weighted the objectives because there was no conceivable
way that the group could include every objective that was given in the initial consumer needs assessment in the final
design. Not only that, but if the team tried to include all of the objectives into a design, the constraints would surely
not be able to be included in the design. Because of that fact, the group used an analytic hierarchy process or AHP
to weight the objectives and decide which would be most important or necessary to work with.
When using the AHP, the team arranged the categories of objectives into the rows and columns of a matrix.
Then, in each of the cells of the matrix, a number was assigned that assessed how much more important the row
objective was than the column objective. A cell was given an integer between one and nine if the row item was
more important to the design team than the column item. A nine meant that the row item was absolutely more
important than the column item; a one meant that the row item was of equal important to the team as the column
item was, and all of the other numbers fell somewhere in between. Conversely, if a row item was less important
than a column item, then the cell was assigned a fractional number. These fractions were the inverses of the one to
nine integers, 1 meaning that the two items were of equal importance, one-ninth meaning that the row objective was
extremely less important than the column item, and all of the other fractions again falling in between. Once this
process was completed, the row entries were summed up and were each divided by the sum of all the entries in the
matrix. These numerical values became the weights of the objectives in a given row and told how important each
objective was when being compared to the other objectives in the matrix. These weights became very important
numbers because even though they were based off of the qualitative decisions of the group members, they gave a
quantitative value of how much one attribute was more important than another one. With these numbers the team
had a clear idea of which objectives were most important and which to create designs for. From the AHP matrices,
it is evident that the most important attributes to the group were safety, air control, lighting, and noise reduction.
Presented below are the AHP matrices for the main objectives and sub-objectives contained within each main
objective from the hierarchal objective list (Ogot and Kremer, 2004).
A B C D E F Total Weight
A 1.00 3.00 5.00 7.00 3.00 5.00 24.00 0.291
B 0.33 1.00 3.00 5.00 3.00 7.00 19.33 0.234
C 0.20 0.33 1.00 7.00 3.00 5.00 16.53 0.200
D 0.14 0.20 0.14 1.00 0.14 3.00 4.63 0.056
E 0.33 0.33 0.33 7.00 1.00 7.00 16.00 0.194
F 0.20 0.14 0.20 0.33 0.14 1.00 2.02 0.024
A= Safety D= Decoration
B= Air Control E= Noise Reduction
C= Lighting F= Convenience
Figure 1. AHP Pairwise Comparison Matrix with Weighting for Main Objective Categories
A B C D Total Weight
A 1.00 3.00 3.00 7.00 14.00 0.396
B 0.33 1.00 0.20 5.00 6.53 0.185
C 0.33 5.00 1.00 7.00 13.33 0.377
D 0.14 0.20 0.14 1.00 1.49 0.042
A= Fire retardant C= Sturdy
B= Water resistant D= Coating to reduce bacteria
Figure 2. AHP Pairwise Comparison Matrix with Weighting for Safety Size Sub-objective
A B C D E F Total Weight
A 1.00 5.00 0.11 0.20 0.14 0.14 6.60 0.079
B 0.20 1.00 0.17 0.20 0.14 0.14 1.85 0.022
C 9.00 6.00 1.00 2.00 1.00 1.00 20.00 0.240
D 5.00 5.00 0.50 1.00 0.25 0.20 11.95 0.143
E 7.00 7.00 1.00 4.00 1.00 1.00 21.00 0.252
F 7.00 7.00 1.00 5.00 1.00 1.00 22.00 0.264
A= Odor reducing material D= Ceiling fan
B= Dehumidifier E= Air conditioning system
C= Good ventilation F= Heating system
Figure 3. AHP Pairwise Comparison Matrix with Weighting for Air Control Sub-objective
A B Total Weight
A 1.00 0.20 1.20 0.167
B 5.00 1.00 6.00 0.833
A= Recessed lighting
B= Natural light filtered into apartment space
Figure 4. AHP Pairwise Comparison Matrix with Weighting for Lighting Sub-objective
A B C D E Total Weight
A 1.00 0.50 0.25 0.33 1.00 3.08 0.079
B 2.00 1.00 0.33 0.50 4.00 7.83 0.200
C 4.00 3.00 1.00 2.00 5.00 15.00 0.383
D 3.00 2.00 0.50 1.00 4.00 10.50 0.268
E 1.00 0.25 0.20 0.25 1.00 2.70 0.069
A= Accepts paint C= Appealing to the eye
B= Interchangeable panels of different D= Modern design in
styles for different areas terms of appearance
E= Bright colors
Figure 5. AHP Pairwise Comparison Matrix with Weighting for Decoration Sub-objective
A B C Total Weight
A 1.00 3.00 0.50 4.50 0.321
B 0.33 1.00 0.20 1.53 0.109
C 2.00 5.00 1.00 8.00 0.570
A= Easy installation
B= Easy to hang objects on ceiling
C= Easy to clean
Figure 6. AHP Pairwise Comparison Matrix with Weighting for Convenience Sub-
Also presented below is a table containing the weighted hierarchal objective list. This table is similar to the
previous hierarchal objective list except that this includes the weights from the above AHP matrices next to each
objective. The weights have been shown in two ways. The relative weight of each attribute is the weight of each
objective as compared to each other objective in the objective’s specific main objective category. This means that
the relative weights were equal to the weights obtained from the sub-objective AHP matrices. These relative
weights were presented as the second number in the pair of numbers beside each objective. The other weights, the
absolute weights are the weights of each sub-objective when compared to all other sub-objectives in the hierarchal
objective list. These numbers were obtained by multiplying the relative weight of each sub-objective by the weight
of that sub-objective’s specific main objective category. This allowed the team to see a rank and weight for each
particular sub-objective in the reference frame of the entire consumer needs list (Ogot and Kremer, 2004).
Table 3. Weighted Hierarchal Objective List Constructed from Consumer Needs List for a
Studio Apartment Ceiling
1. Safety (0.291,0.291)
1.1 Fire retardant (0.115,0.396)
1.2 Water resistant (0.054,0.185)
1.3 Sturdy (0.110,0.377)
1.4 Coating to reduce bacteria (0.012,0.042)
C.2 Smoke detectors
2. Air Control (0.234,0.234)
2.1 Odor reducing material (0.018,0.079)
2.2 Dehumidifier (0.005,0.022)
2.3 Good ventilation (0.056,0.240)
2.4 Ceiling fan (0.033,0.143)
2.5 Air conditioning system (0.059,0.252)
2.6 Heating system (0.062,0.264)
F.1 Purifies air
F.2 Keeps heat in apartment
3. Lighting (0.200,0.200)
3.1 Recessed lighting (0.033,0.167)
3.2 Natural light filtered into apartment space (0.167,0.833)
F.3 Provides ample lighting for entire space
C.3 Must contain lighting fixtures
4. Decoration (0.056,0.056)
4.1 Accepts paint (0.004,0.079)
4.2 Interchangeable panels of different styles for different areas (0.011,0.200)
4.3 Appealing to the eye (0.021,0.383)
4.4 Modern design in terms of appearance (0.015,0.268)
4.5 Bright colors (0.004,0.069)
5. Noise Reduction (0.194,0.194)
5.1 Acoustic elements to cut down on noise from above (0.194,0.194)
F.4 Reduces noise from interior and exterior sources
6. Convenience (0.024,0.024)
6.1 Easy installation (0.008,0.321)
6.2 Easy to hang objects on ceiling (0.003,0.109)
6.3 Easy to clean (0.014,0.570)
C.4 Energy efficient
C.5 Reasonable cost
3.0 Revised Problem Statement
Through the use Armstrong Word Industries’ aptitude and advance ideas, along with the group’s new ideas and
the new market, the team found that the studio apartment market in an urban environment was a great opportunity to
seize. The team labelled concerns of air quality, natural light availability, noise pollution, fire safety, and cost
effectiveness to be addressed in the project. In addition, the team determined that it must be very creative and useful
to make it more like a “home” for its residence. Thus, the decision was made to add wireless (technology already in
use by Armstrong) was well as personalization, a very big issue to many.
Ultimately, the team’s mission is to create a ceiling for a studio apartment that will be both functional and cost
efficient for the apartment contractor, as well as personalizable, creative, and useful for the tenant. By conducting
customer needs analysis, the team was able to focus on not only what the company needed, but what the consumers
wanted. These wants included better natural lighting and better sound dampening, while still obtaining a relative
level of energy efficiency and reasonable cost.
4.0 External Search
The group used means of external research to become familiar with the product and the possibilities of the
design process. By researching literary sources, patents and interviewing consumers, the group was able to use this
knowledge to make a better design.
4.1 Literature Search
The team has selected a studio apartment in an urban setting to redesign its ceiling. American Heritage
Dictionary defines a studio apartment as consisting of one main living space with an attached kitchen and bathroom
(American Heritage Dictionary, 2007). Studio apartments create many challenges in designing a suitable ceiling
such as air ventilation and noise abatement.
Air quality and thermal conditions have effects on a person’s health. With studio apartments, since everything
is contained in one main space, contaminants coming from the kitchen are easily circulated within the rest of the
apartment. These impurities cause heat, odor, and humidity, as well as other unfavorable conditions that create
discomfort for the residents. An example of this is when pork or beef is cooked, airborne mutagens and carcinogens
are released which are unhealthy for a person to breath in (Kosonen, 2007). Not only do harmful contaminants
come from cooking, but also from heating, smoking, synthetic building material and other materials that contain
volatile organic compounds (Jones 1999). This exemplifies the importance of ventilation for studio apartments.
Sound is another important aspect for studio apartments which does not contain rooms to and extra walls to
dampen sound. In large spaces ceiling height, absorption factor and sound dividing effect of furniture are factors of
the sound’s reverberation time (Friberg 1975). The CAC (Ceiling Attenuation Class) is a rating that measures how
well a ceiling can block sound which is usually around 35. Several techniques are used to dampen sound by
manipulating the building shape and material. Many absorbent materials convert sound into heat and soft, porous
materials will absorb sound. Concave domes can focus sound and curved out or irregular surfaces dissipate sound.
Other surfaces such as smooth and hard can reflect sound (Hedge 2007).
One of the key components of sound dampening and absorption is that as sound enters an object, that object
vibrates due to the energy of the sound wave. Because of that, sonic energy of the wave would be transformed into
mechanical energy of the object. As the object would vibrate, it would be subject to frictional forces and the sound
would be dissipated. This phenomenon could be made effective through the use of two concepts. The first would
be to increase the mass of the object that the sound strikes. This would allow a larger and thicker object to vibrate
due to the sound wave and would allow more energy to be transferred from the sound to the mechanical energy of
the dampening material. The other concept to improve sound dampening would be to partition the dampening
material into several layers. Each layer could be made of a different material or of a different mass. This would
allow there to be many independently vibrating structures all at once rather than one single vibrating entity. Because
of the partitions, the vibrating objects would dissipate more energy into friction and would thus dampen the sound
more effectively. (Deblander, 2004)
Additionally, the rationale for creating the partitions in the dampening object out of different materials and sizes
would be due to resonance. An object naturally would vibrate at a particular frequency, called a resonant frequency,
when given energy from an external source. Because each partition would be constructed to be dissimilar to the
other partitions, each partition would resonate at a unique frequency and would thus filter out the sound in a unique
way. Through the use of many partitions, the sound would be filtered in many individual ways and would be
dissipated most efficiently (Resonance, 2007).
There are not many ceiling and building designs that focus on air quality. New building designs focus on
energy conservation which causes more synthetic building material and more uses of volatile organic compounds
which releases unhealthy toxins in the air (Jones 1999). For sound quality, many offices use acoustic panels to
reduce sound (Friberg 1975).
Radiant ceiling panels are a new way to regulate the air temperature in a room. Radiant ceiling panels are, so
far, used in public and commercial places for heating and cooling. The costs for installation and operation are low
and can work with in drop in ceilings. Other benefits include noise suppression and it does not contain the dust
collected by fin-tube heating units (Ricketts 2000).
Lighting is another major concern with designing a ceiling for a space. Because of that, optics would play a
crucial role in how the space would be perceived and how spacious that space might feel. Since the human eyes
perceive distance based on how intense the light is that is being reflected from an object, if a bright object were to be
placed in front of a dark area, that area would seem much more distant to the onlooker than one that would be
brighter in color. Dark colors seem to recede from the viewer and light colors seem to encroach to the viewer. This
aspect of colors would be taken advantage of in many interior designs in order to make a space feel larger (Light and
In addition to the light object being placed into a dark background, it would be important to take into
consideration reflecting glare based on the differences in brightness of the object and the background. The IESNA,
the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, suggests that a brightness ratio of five to one should not be
exceeded. An object in front of a background that is five times less bright than it would lead to the perception of
glare and visual fatigue. In order to create an effective design, this brightness ratio would have to be noted (Light
and Color, 2007).
When using drop ceiling panels, two kinds are typically used, mineral fiber panels and fiber glass panels.
Mineral fiber panels are more common in residential living than fiber glass panels. Mineral fiber panels are made
from recycled newspapers, mineral wool, etc. and can block and absorb sound unlike the fiber glass panels which
can only absorb sound. The Armstrong tiles come in three different sizes, one foot by one foot, two feet by two feet,
and two feet by four feet. A particular fiber glass panel is the Optima Open Plan which has one of the highest
acoustic and lighting coefficients. Though commonly used in commercial setting, the team further investigated its
uses in a residential setting.
A standard apartment ceiling has usually a ten-foot distance from finished floor to finished floor, leaving
about an eight-foot floor to ceiling distance. Eight foot is just a target distance, but anywhere from seven-foot, six
inches to eight-foot, six inches is acceptable and common. The distance needed for recessed lighting is five inches,
plus three more inches for wiring and slop. Other piping, wiring, and ducting can be woven through the drop,
leaving an eight-inch drop not only feasible, but also common. When all of these limits are added together, the most
change that would need to occur would be an addition of two inches to each floor, but most likely no changes to the
structure would be needed.
Sam also commented on the idea of using drop panels and the ability to get up in the ceiling. This not only
allows customization and change, but he said it would allow for easy repair and updating, as apartments need to be
kept up to code.
4.2 Patent Search
The team used a patent search as one of the means to gather information about their prospective design. Many
aspects of a ceiling design were considered when finding patents to examine. Each patent takes into account a
certain aspect of a traditional ceiling that the team was considering improving upon. By knowing how much
freedom they had for their design, the patent search allowed them to be as efficient as possible during the design
Table 4. Art-Function Matrix for Ceiling Design
Porous Valve and
Electromagnetic Speed for Fluid Tubular Reflective Bladder
Function Insulation Monitoring Planar Panel
Grids Moisture Reservoir Skylight Skylight Tubes Device
Air Quality US7175695 US7191607
Temperature US6120247 US7195178
Fire Safety US7025285
The two main ideas the team wanted to focus on were natural lighting and acoustics. US Patent 6877585
included acoustical ceiling tiles, which would help dampen noise and still remain cost efficient. US Patent 6990773
not only incorporated natural light, but also reflectivity to help spread the light throughout the environment.
However, in an apartment complex, it is not practical or a possibility to have a skylight in every room. US Patent
7025285 dealt with fire safety and sprinkler systems. This particular design used a bladder device to cut off the
water flow at a certain point. However, the team later decided to leave the traditional sprinkler system intact to help
keep the cost of the new design minimal.
East Pennypacker Dorm:
Figure 7. Dorm Room Ceiling
Ceilings in dorm rooms located in East Halls are focused on keeping sound contained in each room. The close
and compact living areas for students makes noise from neighboring inhabitants a problem. In order to keep sound
from filtering through the ceiling and walls, waffle like structures were implemented in the ceiling design. The
waffle structures are used to contain and dampen sound by trapping and absorbing sound waves.
What the inhabitant sees is the underside of the floor structure. The structure is formed and poured at the job
site rather than cast in a shop and delivered to the site. The system consists of a reinforced concrete slab (the floor)
which is poured together with the concrete beams. This creates the waffle type appearance from below. The low
sections are the beams and the high, flat sections are the underside of the concrete floor slab.
This type of system is often used because reinforced concrete has excellent strength, sound absorption, fire
resistance, and is very stiff so vibrations are at a minimum. With this type of structure, once the forms are made for
a typical floor, the forms are used for each floor. This method of construction is a lot more uncommon these days
due to the increase in production of pre-cast concrete products (Day 2007).
East Eateries Cafeteria:
Dining Area Serving Area
Figure 8. Dining Commons Ceiling
The cafeteria ceiling focuses on keeping food odors at a minimum through a strong ventilation system. Both
the areas over which the food is served and the dining area contain drop ceilings. In the dining area, the air system
is located in the middle of the ceiling. Where the vents and air system is located, the ceiling drops about 10 inches
leaving about 6 feet of elevated ceiling along the walls to the air vent. The ceiling contains 3 exhaust fans spread
out above the food. Above the grill area, a large centralized capture jet is used to remove the smoke and impurities
that are released from cooking.
House: (located on Pugh St.)
Common Area Kitchen
Bathroom Living Room
Figure 9. House Ceiling
The ceilings in most houses are more concerned with aesthetics than a dorm or cafeteria. Noise is not a large
concern for houses like other livings spaces like dorms and apartments. With this house, costs were the primary
concern when designing the ceiling. Each room contains similar flat, drywall ceilings which are relatively cheap to
build. For fire safety, sprinklers are located in every room that release water when triggered with smoke or
excessive heat. In the kitchen area, the vent connects to the fan above the stove and into the wall. The bathroom
has an air vent to suck up unwanted odors. A ceiling fan was placed in the living room to make the room less
Corner Room Restaurant:
Figure 10. Restaurant Ceiling
In restaurants, ceilings are designed for their low lighting and noise abatement. Wood partitions were used for
aesthetics with the middle panels made out of stone and plaster (close up). The high ceiling creates the appearance
of more space and diminishes the feeling of being crowded. Dim lights were built up into the panels for a flatter
4.4 Design Target
From the information gathered from the literature search, patent search and benchmarking, the team kept its
focus on a studio apartment in an urban setting. The customer needs analysis proved that there were many different
aspects of the ceiling system that could be improved. These included lack of natural lighting, air flow and quality
and noise reduction. The team decided to mainly focus on lighting and acoustics. The team still incorporated typical
safety features in its design, such as a sprinkler system. The team also redesigned the ceiling in a relatively cost
effective manner, and also kept the use of energy to a minimum amount.
5.0 Concept Generation
Once the team had a better idea of the current designs of ceilings and what features needed improvement, they
were able to begin generating concepts to improve their ceiling redesign. By first completing background research
such as literature and patent searches, the team knows what concepts are already in place in the market and therefore
unnecessary to pursue.
5.1 Problem Clarification
The initial and revised problem statements clearly stated the difficulties the original design held for urban studio
apartments. After various methods of research, the main problem areas the team focused on were acoustics and
lighting. In order to please the consumers, the new design had to be superior in each of these respective categories
while it retained its current positive features.
In order to clearly define the specific problems and what needed to be done to improve these aspects of the
design, the team created a black box model, as shown in Figure 11. The black box model functioned as an input and
output type of diagram and showed how the initial signals, energy, and materials were transformed by internal
environment. Once this model was created, it was easier for the team to analyze the setbacks of the current electric
toothbrush model and to theorize about how to fix them. This allowed the design to be marketed better to the target
customer (Ogot and Kremer, 2004).
Figure 11. Black Box Model
After each area of the black box model had been analyzed by the team, a list of current drawbacks and problems
was compiled. By forming this list, the team was properly prepared to generate concepts that they could use to
improve the design of the studio apartment ceiling.
The team also used the TRIZ, or Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, method to aid in the research process.
This method uses technical contradictions and contradiction matrices to help solve engineering problems. TRIZ also
is used to solve physical contradictions with the separation principles. In each case, standard solutions are formed.
Each team member formed a problem statement, using the template found in Engineering Design: A Practical
Guide (Ogot and Kremer, 2004). Each separate problem statement dealt with a different problem the team wanted
more information about. These included air quality and temperature, inside noise, outside noise and lighting. Once
the template was completed, the existing problems were described using the general parameters listed in the book to
obtain the Ideal Final Result. Each team member picked out one parameter that best described their problem and one
parameter that described the undesirable result that could come from changing it. These were inserted in the EXCEL
spreadsheet provided in class and a few of the 40 TRIZ design principles were displayed. These principles were
utilized by the team to help determine the best possible solution to the problem at hand. Each design principle and a
short description are listed in the book to clarify the results of the Ideal Final Result.
The team compiled their results and discussed which approaches were best for each individual problem. Once
the TRIZ process was complete, the team was better equipped with knowledge of their problem and possible ideas
on how to improve the design’s faults.
5.2 Concept Generation
Once the team determined the existing drawbacks to the ceiling system through external research, they were
able to begin generating concepts for the different aspects of the redesign. Each team member did their own
individual research and prepared a variety of different ideas to present to the team. The team collaborated to
compare and contrast the various assets of each feature and idea. After the concepts were all compiled, they were
inserted into a morphological chart which would allow the function of each concept to be grouped with similar ideas.
Each of the features could be classified in one of the following categories: acoustics, lighting, temperature control,
customizing abilities, and strength. This gave the team an easy and organized way to decide which ideas would
bring the most to the ceiling redesign.
Table 5. Morphological Chart
Acoustics Lighting Temperature Control
Thin Foil Layer Insulation
Metal Grid Coating
Centralized Air Conditioning
Transparent Light Shade
Table 6. Morphological Chart Continued
Acoustics Lighting Temperature Control
Reflective and Suspended Panels
Sound Conversion Material
Table 7. Morphological Chart Continued
Customizing Abilities Strength
Strengthening Metal Alloy Bars
Built in Speakers and Wi-Fi
Wood Panel Backing
When it came to concept generation, the group began designing ceilings that would meet the customer needs. At
first, ideas were not restricted to limited focus areas so as to not impede creativity. After the initial set of concepts
that were generated, a pattern was detected. Improvements in acoustics and lighting were the most important issues
among many of the concepts. Taking this into account, the second set of generated concepts had two main focuses,
acoustics and lighting. Within the two sets of concept generation, the ideas illustrated in the sketches above were
Each team member generated a few ideas for dampening sound. In studio apartments, sound is often echoed
and enhanced throughout such a large room. The metal grid coating is a tiny criss-cross pattern of thin metal bars.
The metal grip helps block noise and unwanted sound due to the acoustical properties of metal. The gas layer design
is a tile compiled of three layers. The top and bottom layers are made from regular ceiling material and the middle
layer is made out of an inert gas, preferably Argon, surrounded in a plastic shell. The Argon gas is not reactive and
being encased in a plastic shell makes it safe to store. For the acoustic foam concept, sound proofing foam would be
placed above the drop ceilings to dampen sound waves coming from within the apartment. The sound conversion
material is what the surface layer of the ceiling would be made out of. The material would be able to convert sound
waves into heat which in turn can be yielded for insulation or energy purposes (Friberg 1975). The cylinder foam
concept is taken from sound studios where large cylinder foam panels are set up against walls to absorb unwanted
sound. Taking from this idea, the cylinder foams would be placed along the corners of the ceiling where it absorbs
maximum sound. The multiple layer design takes advantage of resonant frequencies and the sound dampening
physics mentioned in the literature search, this ceiling tile design would be made of many independent layers. The
view is a cross sectional view of the tile with each partition corresponding to a different material made with a
different mass than those surrounding it. The inner layer, second from the bottom, could be made out of a fibrous
material that has room for an air gap in the unfilled space. This would provide more effective sound dampening and
independence of vibrating layers.
Lighting was a target area that the entire group wanted to concentrate on improving. Natural lighting and light
enhancement were the key focuses in all the concepts. For the parabolic mirror, rather than a cylindrical space for a
light bulb to be placed into, this design creates a reconfigured space for the bulb. The space would be adapted and
made into three sections, all of which are parabolic. The rotation of these sections about the central axis of the space
would create the desired shape. The back parabola would take any light that would be reflected out of the back
portion of the light bulb and would reflect it straight forward. The side parabolas would reflect the light diagonally
down and out into the room. This would effectively use all of the light emitted by the light bulb and not waste any
power. As a note, in order to make the design effective, the light bulb would have to be placed at the foci of all
three parabolas. For the metallic panels, metallic specs would act as little mirrors reflecting light throughout the
room. This takes the light from the ceiling, where it is not wanted, to the room, where it is useful. The transparent
lampshade takes an opaque lamp shade and makes it transparent. The originally blocked or unused light would be
reflected off of metal panels that would spread the light around the room more effectively. For the next design,
suspended panels hang below the normal ceiling. Hidden behind the panels are angled sheets of reflective metal.
The sheets reflect the natural light into the room. The panels hide the sheets from view to prevent beams of strong
light shining in too brightly. The convex ceiling idea makes the ceiling out of a reflective material to reflect light in
different angles due to the shape of the ceiling. Also, the domed shape of the ceiling is more aesthetically pleasing
than a plain, flat ceiling.
The temperature control function contains designs that deal with the regulation of the temperature throughout
the apartment. The first design focuses on the insulation of heat. A thin foil layer acts as an insulator due to the
properties of metal and locks heat in the room. The centralized air conditioning system is based on the design of the
cafeteria ceiling in the benchmarking section. The air conditioning system is located n the center of the ceiling that
is slightly dropped down. This cuts down on the prices of wires and vents that are originally spread around the room.
The customizing abilities function is the most creative. The designs allow for modifications to meet the wants
of each individual customer. The built in audio speakers and Wi-Fi router gives the customer the ability to add
either one or both the audio speakers or Wi-Fi router into the ceiling. This gives the customer more function out of
their ceiling. A Wi-Fi router would remove the need for networking cables in the wall. The custom Armstrong drop
panels takes acoustic Armstrong panels and drop them down, exposing the upper ceiling through the cracks. The
above ceiling would be painted a dark color to hide imperfections and make the ceiling look bigger. The dropped
panels would brighten the room and provide sound absorption. The Armstrong drop panels are easily replaced and
are chosen by each customer to make their living space more customizable.
Only two designs focus on the strength of the ceiling. One design takes metal alloy bars and uses them to
strengthen plaster ceiling. The metal bars span the length of the ceiling. For a traditional plaster ceiling, two metal
bars are added for extra support. The second design, wood backing panels, adds a layer of wood to the back of a
ceiling panel to increase its strength and durability to be able to support heavy objects and material that are
contained in the ceiling.
Overall, the concepts generated strived to meet the demands of the two customers, Armstrong and studio
apartment inhabitants, while being creative and innovative.
6.0 Concept Selection
This section describes the concept selection process and how the team was able to choose the appropriate
concepts generated to be implemented into the final design. Each category from the morphological charts was put
into a Pugh chart. For each function, customer needs attributes where chosen that were most relevant to the
particular function and used as categories to weight the designs. The given weights calculated from the AHP
matrixes were normalized for the Pugh charts for each category to add up to one. In each chart, one design was
chosen as the base and given a zero for each customer needs attribute and used to rank all the other designs. If the
design being weighted was more efficient than the base design for the particular attribute, a positive one was given.
If the design was worse it was given a negative one and a zero if it contained the same efficiency. The given
number was multiplied by the normalized weights of the consumer needs attributes and added up for each design.
According to the sum of each design, a ranking was constructed for each function Pugh chart and a final design for
each function was selected.
Acoustics Safety 0.515 Decoration 0.099 Noise Reduction 0.343 Convenience 0.042 TOTAL
Metal Grid Coating 0 0 -1 -0.099 -1 -0.343 1 0.042 -0.057
Gas Layer -1 -0.515 1 0.099 0 0 -1 -0.042 -0.458
Acoustic Foam 0 0 1 0.099 0 0 0 0 0.099
Cylinder Foam 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Material Layer 0 0 1 0.099 1 0.343 -1 -0.042 0.400
Material Layer and
Metal Grid Coating -1 -0.515 -1 -0.099 1 0.343 -1 -0.042 -0.313
Material Layer and
Gas Layer -1 -0.515 1 0.099 1 0.343 -1 -0.042 -0.115
Cylinder Foam and
Acoustic Foam 0 0 0 0 1 0.343 0 0 0.343
Metal Grid Coating
and Acoustic Foam 0 0 -1 -0.099 1 0.343 -1 -0.042 0.202
Figure 12. Acoustics Pugh Chart
The first Pugh chart dealt with acoustics. The customer needs that were weighted against the designs were
safety, decoration, noise reduction, and convenience. The safety category compared how well the design would be
compatible with safety regulations that are mandatory for every apartment building. The decoration category
compared how the design will appear to the inhabitant. This remains consistent throughout each Pugh chart. For
noise reduction, the designs were weighted on how well they absorbed and or blocked sound. Convenience ranked
on the availability of the design’s materials and its ability to be manufactured and constructed. Along with safety,
the category of convenience is same to all the remaining Pugh charts. Once the designs were weighted and the rank
was calculated, the material layer concept was ranked the best design for acoustics. After further research was
conducted, the material layer deign was found to be very similar to any basic acoustic absorbing tiles that are
constructed by Armstrong.
Lighting Safety 0.510 Decoration 0.098 Lighting 0.350 Convenience 0.042 TOTAL
Parabolic Mirror 0 0 0 0 1 0.350 1 0.042 0.392
Metalic Panels 1 0.510 -1 -0.098 -1 -0.350 0 0 0.062
Shade 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Suspended Panels -1 -0.510 1 0.098 -1 -0.350 -1 -0.042 -0.804
Convex Ceiling 0 0 1 0.098 -1 -0.350 0 0 -0.252
and Metalic Panels 0 0 -1 -0.098 1 0.350 1 0.042 0.294
and Reflective and
Suspended Panels -1 -0.510 1 0.098 1 0.350 -1 -0.042 -0.104
Metalic Panels and
Convex Ceiling 1 0.510 -1 -0.098 0 0 0 0 0.412
Shade and Convex
Ceiling 0 0 0 0 1 0.350 -1 -0.042 0.308
Figure 13. Lighting Pugh Chart
The lighting Pugh chart ranked the designs that dealt with enhancing the amount and quality of light in the
apartment. The designs were related to safety, decoration, lighting, and convenience. The lighting category
compares how the design will diffuse light around the room. The sound absorbing concept in the original concept
generation was left out of the Pugh chart due to the unrealistic nature of the design. The design that was ranked the
highest was the parabolic mirror. Similar to the acoustic final design, the parabolic mirror design was found to have
already existed. Such lights can be easily found in any hardware store.
Temperature Control Safety 0.481 Air Control 0.387 Decoration 0.093 Convenience 0.040 TOTAL
Thin Foil Layer
Insulation 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Conditioning 1 0.481 1 0.387 1 0.093 -1 -0.04 0.921
Thin Foil Layer
Conditioning -1 -0.481 1 0.387 -1 -0.093 -1 -0.04 -0.227
Figure 14. Temperature Control Pugh Chart
For the temperature control Pugh chart, the designs focused on the temperature of the room. The customer
needs that were weighted against the designs were safety, air control, decoration, and convenience. Only two
designs contained the idea of temperature control and were relatively easy to compare with one another. The design
that received the highest ranking was the centralized air conditioning. The air conditioning design met the needs of
safety, air control, and decoration more adequately than the thin layer of foil.
Customizing Abilities Safety 0.784 Decoration 0.151 Convenience 0.065 TOTAL
Built In Speakers
and WI-FI 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Drop Ceilings 1 0.784 1 0.151 1 0.065 1.00
Built In Speakers
and WI-FI and
Droop Ceilings 0 0 1 0.151 1 0.065 0.216
Figure 15. Customizing Abilities Pugh Chart
The customizing abilities Pugh chart contains more of the creative and innovative ideas. The two customizing
designs allow for the customer to easily change the design to meet their wants and needs to make their living space
more personal. Safety, decoration, and convenience were the three customer needs the designs were ranked against.
The highest ranked design was the custom Armstrong drop ceilings. The dropped Armstrong panels can be chosen
by the customer and easily changed with new inhabitants of the living space.
Strength Safety 0.784 Decoration 0.151 Convenience 0.065 TOTAL
Metal Alloy Bars 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Panels 1 0.784 1 0.151 0 0 0.935
Figure 16. Strength Pugh Chart
The strength Pugh chart contains ideas to strengthen the ceiling materials and therefore, the entire system. The
two ideas were weighted against the customer needs of safety, decoration and convenience. The highest ranking
design was the wood backing panels. These thin sheets of wood fit easily on the back of the traditional Armstrong
panels to prevent sagging and aging over time.
Concepts Safety 0.380 Lighting 0.261 Noise Reduction 0.254 Decoration 0.073 Convenience 0.031 TOTAL
1-2-2-1 1 0.380 1 0.261 0 0 -1 -0.073 -1 -0.031 0.537
2-3-1-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1-1-2-1 1 0.380 1 0.261 1 0.254 0 0 -1 -0.31 0.585
3-1-2-1 -1 -0.380 1 0.261 -1 -0.254 1 0.073 0 0 -0.300
Figure 17. Final Pugh Chart
Once the designs were ranked within each function category from the Pugh charts, a final design Pugh chart
was constructed. This was done by weighting each team member opinion of what should be in the final design
against the customer needs. Each team member selected a design or a combination of designs from each category
and was labeled by their rank in order of how the Pugh charts were presented above. Similar to the individual
function Pugh charts, a base was selected and given zeros for each customer needs. The same calculations were
carried out as above when the final designs were ranked. The highest rank and chosen design combination was the
material layer, parabolic light, built in speakers and Wi-Fi, and the wood layer panel. Through careful consideration
and team agreement, the temperature control designs were not weighted in the final Pugh chart. The team decided
that the temperature control concepts were necessary and would only complicate the final design.
7.0 Final Design
The team’s final design brought concept and reality together. The design starts with the base ceiling, or the
standard ceiling left by architects before interior contractors start working, usually a combination of concrete, steel
beams, and rebar. The ceiling would be painted a dark color to give the feeling of emptiness and space. Then two
foot by four foot Armstrong drop ceiling panels would be suspended six inches below the base ceiling, contrasting
the dark color with a white or pastel color. This allows natural light to be reflected to brighten up the room and also
creates a more spacious illusion. The drop panels would use the Armstrong suspension rod system, used for their
canopy systems. The panels would be reinforced from behind with a thin piece of wood to fetter sagging and allow
for storage, such as a speaker system or Wi-Fi router.
7.1 Design Drawings, Parts List and Bill of Materials
The CAD drawings of the final ceiling system design contain all concepts that were chosen by the team. The
CAD drawings can be found in the appendices.
Even more than just CAD drawings and sketches, the team assembled a prototype of the intended design.
Images of the prototype are in the appendices of the report.
In addition to the CAD drawings, the team created individual sketches of the components that went into making
the final design. These drawings give a more complete view of the constituents of the complete design that the team
was looking for.
Table 8. Components of Final Design
Lighting Strength Customizing Abilities Acoustics
Parabolic Mirror Wood Panel Backing Custom Armstrong Panels Multilayer Panel
Built-in Speakers and Wi-Fi
Also, the team assembled a parts list of the different materials and components that would go into making the
final design a reality. The quantities on the list are approximate amounts for a standard sixteen by nineteen foot
apartment. Although sizes of studio apartments vary, the prices and quantities tabulated should be a good average
and estimate of the final design requirements.
Additionally, the design team did a cost analysis of expected materials and labor costs. In order to do this, the
team used values given by the Armstrong cost sheets and by general labor guidelines. The estimated costs found by
the team were about thirty dollars and sixty two cents per square foot in materials and thirteen thousand seven
hundred ninety three dollars and fifty one cents for a total project cost in year two thousand seventeen. An extended
analysis of these calculations can be found in the appendices (Armstrong World Industries, 2006).
Table 9. Materials List for Final Design
Product Manufacturer: Armstrong
Part# Part Name QTY Function Mass Material Manuf. Dimensions Acoustic Cost
(g) Process Coefficient
1 Optima 2 Sound Approx. Fiberglass Assembled 4 foot by 2 .9 $4.55
Open Plan cartons absorbent, 22000 with and foot per per
Tile light per DuraBrite manufactured panel square
reflector, carton acoustically by Armstrong foot
fire (20 tiles) transparent
2 5mm 72 ft Drop and Approx. Steel Wound by 3 feet per N/A $0.18
Suspension support 24200 Armstrong panel (9 per
Rod lowered per inches per foot
tiles carton connection)
(40 rods) by 3/16 by
3 Hook 192 Anchor Approx Steel Molded by 3/16 by 3/8 N/A $1.56
Suspension clips cables into 2200 per Armstrong by 1 inches per
Clips ceiling carton foot
and tiles (100 cable
4 Aluminum Approx. Provide a Approx. Aluminum Molded and .393 sq ft N/A $11
2 backing 372 melted into per panel per
square reflective sheets square
feet backing foot
5 Plywood 192 sq Backing Approx Wood Carved 4 foot by 2 .07 $10
feet and 3.5 kg foot by 1/4 per
support per sq inch square
for foot foot
6 Latex 5 Provide Since the Latex Mixed into 16 foot by .06 $20
Paint gallons color to paint is based composition 19 foot and per
the upper spread polymers negligible gallon
portion of out, the thickness
the ceiling mass is
7 Light bulb 4 Provide Approx. Glass and Melted into 2.25 in by N/A $3 per
lighting to 20 Metal shape and 2.25 in by bulb
the space assembled 4.125 in
7.2 How Does It Work?
The final design that the team chose encompassed many design aspects that would take advantage of not only
new and innovative ideas created by the design team, but also ideas and designs that have already been put to use by
Armstrong and other retailers on the market. In combining the team’s concepts with those of the sponsoring
company’s, the design would be able to be both realized and potentially used by Armstrong.
The basic premise of the final design is to have spaced out ceiling tiles that would be lowered beyond the level
of the regular built in apartment ceiling. These tiles would be created out of already used Armstrong four foot by
two foot tiles and would be a white color. The ceiling above would be painted to be a darker color. This color could
be chosen by the apartment owner but for the purposes of the design, the team chose a darker blue tint. In addition
to this, lights would be installed in the center of various tiles throughout the room to provide a source of lighting for
the space. Although the models created by the team show lights in every tile, this need not be the case. The lights
can be added as needed to illuminate a particular space.
To go into further detail, the team chose the particular design for many reasons and took many concepts into
account when choosing the final design. To start, the first design component was the fact that the ceiling tiles were
hung lower from the original height of the already existent ceiling. This was done for many reasons, the most
substantial of which being to add a perception of spaciousness to the room. Typical studio apartments are made
rather small and that is one of the many detriments of living in such a space. Typical ceilings vary between eight
and nine feet high and have no contour or shape to them. By lowering the ceiling tiles and choosing the appropriate
colors to make them, the resident could get a feeling of perceived extra space. However, because a studio apartment
is only eight or nine feet high, there is a fine line between how much the ceiling could and should be practically
lowered. Because the team wanted to make the room add the perceived spaciousness to the room without
diminishing too greatly from the size of the room, the team chose a lowering distance of six inches. This choice was
acceptable because as determined in the literature search, seven foot six inches was considered acceptable for an
apartment ceiling. This would be the limiting minimum case and any dimensions higher than an already existing
eight foot ceiling would just be more luxurious and spacious.
It should also be noted that just lowering the ceiling tiles would have no effect of added spaciousness without
there being gaps of ample size between the tiles. Gaps between the tiles would allow the resident to see the upper
ceiling in addition to the lowered ceiling and would allow the resident to see the contrast between the layers. This
contrast would serve as the means of obtaining the perceived spaciousness. In order to keep the design and
manufacturing process simple, the design team decided to create the gaps between the tiles as half of a foot since
ceiling tile measurements are usually made in feet. This half of a foot gap between tiles was also chosen because the
team felt that, visually, six inches would be enough of a gap to make the design effective.
In conjunction with the ceiling tiles being lowered and spaced out, the concept of perceived space would also be
largely dependant upon color. As is noted in the literature search, dark colors recede while bright colors encroach.
Because of this, the upper ceiling color was chosen as dark and the lower tiles were made light. This would make
the lowered tiles look like the actual ceiling of the space and the upper ceiling seem much more distant away, giving
the resident the desired perceived spaciousness. With that property in mind, the design team was faced with the
choice of what colors to select. Since the tiles that Armstrong was using were already a white tint and the design
team wanted to select materials that would closely relate to the company, the bottom tiles were made from
Armstrong tiles and the white was thus predetermined. Then, because of the brightness ratio mentioned in the
literature search and the fact that if an object too bright is placed in front of one too dark the onlooker would
experience visual fatigue and discomfort, the team decided that something as dark as black would be too drastic of a
color choice for the upper ceiling. For this reason, the team chose a less drastic but still dark blue.
Another consideration for the ceiling design that the team looked into was acoustics. For this, the team decided
that it would be best to not design an entirely new type of ceiling tile with enhanced acoustical properties, but to use
the already made Armstrong tiles with the acoustical properties that went along with them. Not only would this
allow an ease of manufacturing for the company if they chose to take advantage of the team’s design, but it would
allow the chosen ceiling design to be acoustically dampened. Since Armstrong has been in the business of making
ceiling tiles for a substantial amount of time, the team decided that the best and most cost effective acoustical
dampening they could find would come straight from the source. Thus, as a sound wave would approach one of the
tiles, it would strike the tile and be absorbed by it in a similar manner described in the literature search. Also, if a
sound wave were to go through a gap in between the tiles, it would bounce off of the upper ceiling into the
Armstrong tiles. From that, the sound would be also dampened.
In another attempt to integrate the design of the ceiling with the designs of Armstrong, the team also decided to
base the shape of the tiles off of those already produced by Armstrong. The team first had to decide between using
square tiles or rectangular tiles in the design since these would be the two main tile shapes. Since the team reasoned
out that using square tiles would result in a checkerboard type of appearance that could end up being annoying to the
eye, the team decided that it would be best to use rectangular tiles. Although the tiles would still be aligned in the
same way, being squares or rectangles, the rectangular tiles would provide much less of a repetitive and
checkerboard type of feel. Also, the team spoke with Armstrong representatives and researched the cost
effectiveness of rectangular or square tiles. By using rectangular tiles, the team was saving twice the amount of
money they would spend on square tiles. After the square versus rectangle decision was made, all the team had to
decide upon was which size to make the tile. This decision ended up being very simple as the only rectangular tiles
that Armstrong produces are four foot by two foot. Thus, those became the dimensions of the team’s tiles.
After all of the geometric and acoustical decisions of the design were made, the team looked at designs for
implementing lighting into the apartment space. It was decided that lights would be placed at specific tiles in the
design that would depend on the specific layout of the apartment. Since studio apartments may have slightly
different sizes and shapes than the average sixteen by nineteen foot ones, the team mainly focused more on the lights
themselves rather than the placement around the room. The lights that the team chose would be planted into the
lowered ceiling tile and would feature a parabolic type of design. Similar to many lights on the market currently, the
design would contain the light bulb at the focus of the parabola of the light casing. The light casing, being made out
of a reflective metal, would reflect the upward streaming light from the light bulb down and into the room.
However, the team’s design would also feature the sides of the light casing as independent parabolas as well. Thus,
a cross section of the light casing would consist of three connected parabolas, one on each side and one on the top.
The side parabolas would help diffuse light around the room better than a single parabola which focuses light into a
Continuing with the design, as a structural element, a thin sheet of wood would be attached to the backs of the
lowered tiles to add extra support to them. Since the tiles are not made of extremely stiff material, it would be likely
that the tiles may break or sag throughout their use. By adding the wood to the backs of the tiles, these two
problems could be avoided in a relatively inexpensive way. Also, because wood is a porous type of material, it
would not be an extreme detriment to the acoustical properties of the tiles.
Also as another structural element, as the tiles are dropped down, they will be held in position by support cables.
These cables will be made out of metal wire and will feature anchors at the ends to fasten them to both the panels
and the upper ceiling. There will be four cables per lowered tile, one near each corner and these cables were chosen
by the team as ones that were already made by Armstrong.
One of the key features to the team’s design is because of its relative simplicity, the availability for
customizability and changes with the changing times would not be out of the realm of possibility. As Armstrong
might make new and improved tiles or even just tiles of different color schemes, textures, or patterns, these tiles can
easily replace the old tiles in the apartment. With that the apartment could be updated and could look even more
modern than the design team had intended in the upcoming years. Also, in terms of customizability, because the
tiles are lowered and supported by wood, it is possible that the extra space could be put to good use. Extra
electronics, wireless routers, wiring, or even additional lights could be installed into the ceiling without too much
effort at all. This fact could provide grounds for a lot of updating to the apartment as technology becomes more
advanced and more readily available to the studio apartment owner. Finally, although half of a foot is not a great
deal of room, since the tiles are lowered, it would be possible to store small items above the tiles as well. Storing a
heavy item would obviously be dangerous to the resident, but storing a lightweight object above the tiles could be
probable and beneficial.
By combining all of the above elements, the design that the team set out for could be realized. Although the
technical details seem to be a little lengthy and complex, the design is actually somewhat simple. Despite the
simplicity, there are a plethora of added benefits by using the team’s ceiling design. One can achieve a more
spacious looking studio apartment, effective sound dampening, more dispersed lighting, and the ability to customize
as technology changes. Additionally, because the team chose to use Armstrong products in the design, the design
should be relatively easy to manufacture and should not cost a much higher price than the ceilings already being
The initial problem statement defined the need for a new design for a ceiling system. The system was not only
to be up to date, but also still able to be in use ten years from now. The team decided to redesign a ceiling system for
a studio apartment in an urban setting. By selecting an apartment setting, the team was taking the problem one step
further by assisting Armstrong World Industries in their shift to a residential market.
The first step in completing the redesign was to analyze the needs and wants of possible consumers. The team
conducted interviews with many apartment owners to determine what was most important to them in the design.
Once the list of customer needs was compiled, the team used methods of consumer needs analysis such as a
Hierarchical Objective list, AHP matrices and a weighted Hierarchical Objective List to find the most important and
feasible needs for the design project.
Once the customer needs were properly analyzed, the team was ready to begin researching different aspects of
ceilings and ceiling systems. The team used various resources to complete the literature search. They also researched
existing patents to see which ideas have already been put into use and therefore were not going to be original ideas.
Next, the team used benchmarking to analyze current ceiling systems various benefits and drawbacks. The team
used these research methods to become more familiar with the problem and how other designers have taken steps to
improve current ceiling systems.
The team also used the TRIZ, Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, method to further understand the problem
at hand. First, the team began by using the problem statement to define the Ideal Final Result for each aspect of the
design they wished to improve. Separate problem statements were filled out for internal noise, external noise, air
purity and natural lighting. Once each statement was complete, the team used the results in the Ideal Final Result.
By inputting the general parameters used to describe the problems, a few of the 40 TRIZ design principles were
given back to assist the team in solving their problems. This was all done using EXCEL spreadsheets given to us in
Once the team had completed all of their background research, they were able to begin generating concepts for
their final design. Each member used their time out of class to come up with possible ideas for how to improve the
studio apartment ceiling. At the next team meeting, all ideas were presented and the team talked about each one to
decide its practicality, originality and feasibility. The team also used concept selection methods, such as Pugh charts,
to determine which concept in each category was the best idea. However, the final design did not use every idea that
was at the top of its category. The team was given the freedom to pick and choose which concepts would work best
Once each individual concept was chosen, they were pieced together to form the final design. A CAD model of
a portion of the ceiling system was then designed using AutoCAD Inventor. Views of the completed design can be
seen in the appendix. The team also made a model of a section of the ceiling in the shop, which can be seen upon
Although the design and prototype had been finished, the team made sure they understood every aspect of the
new design and how it worked. Every feature had contributed to the overall design of the system, and bettered it in
The team’s final design was extremely modular, to fit the market of studio apartment owners. By allowing a
great deal of customizability, a single apartment could be changed to fit the personalities of several different
residents. The main change in the design was the addition of drop down ceiling tiles. In the team’s original design
and prototype, the upper ceiling is a dark blue color, with white drop down panels. The contrast in colors creates an
illusion of more space than is actually in the room. Since the typical studio apartment ceiling is only eight feet high,
the panels will only be dropped down an additional six inches.
Not only was spaciousness a key factor in the design, but acoustics and lighting were also extremely important.
To maintain simplicity, the team used existing Armstrong ties to drop down. Not only was this cost effective, but
also highly acoustically effective, since Armstrong manufactures tiles with excellent acoustic ratings. Also,
parabolic light fixtures will be installed in various drop down tiles to spread light throughout the room.
It was also important to add a simple wood backing to each of the drop downs to prevent sagging from age as
the design grows older. By adding the support system, each tile will be able to be used longer and keep its
Once the final design was selected, the team needed to analyze the cost of the system. The team used the
Materials List to compile each part needed for the design. Included in this list were the costs for each individual
material. The team used this information to calculate the cost for the entire system to be put into a nineteen foot by
sixteen foot typical studio apartment. The cost to implement the entire system turned out to be $29.00 per square
foot. The cost of the entire system was calculated as $8,816.00. This was well below the suggested budget, $80-
$120 per square foot, that was outlined in the Armstrong World Industries design project statement.
The final design incorporated not only the team’s best designs, but also the consumer needs. When generating
the original concepts, each team member kept the needs and wants of the consumers in mind. Therefore, their needs
were worked with throughout the entire project. However, the final design did not specifically focus on each of the
four most important customer needs categories, which were safety, air control, lighting and noise reduction. The
final design focused mainly on noise reduction and lighting. Although the other ideas were still important, were just
not as prevalent. The safety features, such as a sprinkler system, should already be in place in the upper ceiling, and
therefore the team decided not to focus on that aspect. Air control should also be incorporated into the upper ceiling,
before the team’s ceiling design would be installed.
The team took many factors into consideration when designing its studio apartment ceiling. By maintaining the
highest standards of quality in acoustic and lighting aspects, the design is pleasing to the consumers. It also utilized
a very modular design. The team incorporated the possibility for customers to change the ceiling to best suit their
personalities. The design also leaves space for light storage and for wires in the six inches above the dropped ceiling
tiles. Overall, the team feels that they did an excellent job in upholding Armstrong World Industries and Penn State
University’s standards of excellence. They are also proud of their design and the hard work used to achieve it.
Armstrong World Industries. "Getting to Know You - PSU.Ppt." (2007).
Day, Amy. E-Mail interview. Mar.-Apr. 2007.
Deblander, Jean-Phillippe. “Sound-insulating Sandwich Element.” United States Patent 6789645. 24 September
Friberg, R. "Noise Reduction in Industrial Halls Obtained by Acoustical Treatment of Ceilings and Walls." Noise
Control and Vibration Reduction 6 (1975): 75-79. Compendex.
Hedge, Alan. "Sound in Buildings: Process and Products." Jan. 2007. Cornell University. 2 Apr. 2007
Jones, A P. "Indoor Air Quality and Health." Atmospheric Environment 33 (1999): 4535-4564. Compendex.
Kosonen, Risto. "The Effect of Supply Air Systems on the Efficiency of a Ventilated Ceiling." Building and
Environment 42 (2007): 1613-1623. Compendex.
"Light and Color." US Army Corps of Engineers. 21 Apr. 2007 <http://www.usace.army.mil/publications/design-
Ogot, M. M. and Kremer, G., Engineering Design: A Practical Guide, Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2004.
"Price List." Armstrong World Industries. 2006. 27 Apr. 2007 <http://www.armstrong-
"Resonance." HyperPhysics. 20 Apr. 2007 <http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/reson.html>.
Ricketts, William R. "Radiant Ceiling Panels: Efficient and Effective." Consulting-Specifying Engineer 27
(2000): 80. Compendex.
Snyder, Sam. Telephone interview. 27 Apr. 2007.
"Studio Apartment." American Heritage Dictionary. 2 Apr. 2007 <http://www.bartleby.com/61/37/S0823700.html>.
Optima Tile (4 ft by 2
58.81 => 5.46 => $4.55/ft2
5mm Suspension Rod
2.88 => $2.40 => $0.18/ft2
Hook Suspension Clip
0.94 => $0.78 => $1.56/ft of cable
COST PER SQUARE FOOT OF
$4.55+$0.18+$1.56+$11+$10+ ($20/gallon)(5 gallons)/(16*19
ft2)+$3 = $30.62/ft2
TOTAL COST OF MATERIALS
($30.62/ft2)(16*19 ft2) = $9308.48 in
CF = 1.0 + .1 + .1 + .1
CF = 1.3
(Each .1 is for hanging cables, plywood backing, and paint,
Labor = (Time)(# of people)(salary)(complexity
Since typical wages are determined for a 1076 ft2 room and the studio
apartment is 304 ft2,
the size factor is (304/1076) = 0.283
Labor = (11 hr)(2
TOTAL BASIC COST
Basic = (cost of materials) + (cost of
Basic = $9308.48 +
The 1.2 is the profit
Bid = 1.2($9471.79)
2017 Cost = 1.22(Bid)
The 1.22 accounts for 2% inflation for 10 years
2017 Cost =
2017 Cost = $13793.51