Form and Function: An Elementary School Moves into Former Big-Box Stores

We love hearing from our industry partners about the value of Cardinal Acoustics, our wood fiber panels, and projects we partnered with. The story of our recent collaboration with E&K Companies in Kansas City, Missouri, is another great example showcasing our diverse work and our wood fiber acoustical panels’ many applications.

About E&K Companies

E&K Companies is one of the largest interior/exterior finish contractors in the United States. Founded in 1956, E&K is a union contractor specializing in drywall, metal stud framing and acoustical ceilings as well as subspecialties such as plasterwork, fire proofing, and suspended baffles. Check out their work or contact them.

The North Kansas City Early Childhood Center: The Vision

E&K and Cardinal Acoustics partnered for the North Kansas City Early Childhood Center (NKCECC), part of the North Kansas City School District. The project converted two stores within a shopping center—a Price Chopper and a Hobby Lobby—into a school facility.

Weston Canterbury, the project manager at E&K, described the project as “basically a massive shell,” adding that it “was separated into two parts: area A and area B. Altogether, it was a 115,000 square-foot building with 22-feet-tall walls.”

After the district committed to invest the needed money, the plan envisioned transforming NKCECC into a whimsical yet functional showcase facility for an educational environment. And E&K and Cardinal Acoustics fulfilled that vision and resolved the acoustical issues in a large, cavernous space.

Butterflies, Trees, and Birds, Oh My!

“The North Kansas City School District wanted to do something unique,” said Canterbury. Those spaces have a lot of potential for sound vibrations, and while standard acoustical tiles would appear clean and perform effectively, they don’t fit an elementary school’s aesthetic. E&K mitigated this concern by using Cardinal Acoustics wood fiber panels and customizing their shapes, which enhanced and enriched the space while dampening the sound.

The plan also reworked the intervals of steel columns, filling the long corridors’ space, into “trees.” E&K and Cardinal Acoustics suspended varying sizes of large, green, circular clouds from the columns, giving the effect of lush, leafy trees. The team also hanged unusual acoustical shapes—such as butterflies, birds, and stars—throughout the space.

But the biggest challenge was the honeycomb shapes for the large ceilings. E&K and the North Kansas City School District ordered hexagons in several sizes from Cardinal Acoustics, and E&K installed them at different heights, which created interest and deepened the space while avoiding a conventional dropped-ceiling look. According to Canterbury, “Each individual honeycomb shape was at a different elevation than the one right next to it and painted a different color. It was pretty cool to look at.”

Turning Circles into Sunshine: The Cardinal Acoustics Experience

We collaborated with E&K before the NKCECC project. They reached out to us because, as Canterbury emphasized, “Cardinal Acoustics is easy to work with. They are dedicated to detail, high-quality work, quick turnarounds, and many customization options, all for a reasonable cost. And they go above and beyond!”

Canterbury also provided two examples of Cardinal Acoustics contributing to NKCECC’s success. As E&K started the project, they sent us mock-ups and ideas. The North Kansas City School District thought having an acoustical panel in the shape of the sun would be nice, but the mock-up was a basic circle. “It wasn’t really a sun,” Canterbury said. “People would look up and probably think, ‘What’s that circle up there?’ So, Cardinal actually took it upon themselves to cut little triangles out of a piece and make it like a kid's drawing of a sun. It was incredible. [The district] loved it.”

“Cardinal also noticed an error in the initial order we made. The quantities were well over what was needed for the project. They rectified that and saved us a good amount of money. We made a mistake, and they caught it. Some places would just send the order as we had placed it, but they took the time to dig into the plans and help us out.”

More Than Acoustical Tiles: Aesthetics and Design

We’re proud to showcase this collaboration with E&K Companies on behalf of the North Kansas City School District’s new early childhood education center. As another example of the value Cardinal Acoustics provides, it highlights our acoustical panels, their function for specific spaces, such as a school, and the beauty they add.

Contact us today for our excellent service, standard and custom-made products, and competitive prices. We’re the best choice for your project.