The design team at Studio K, Chicago-based hospitality design firm, set out to create an elevated lounge experience at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, one of the world’s most traveled airports.

Little did they know the 10,000-square-foot Capital One Lounge in Terminal D would be recognized as best in class. Numerous trade publications have offered their praise with comments ranging from “nailed it” and “one of the nicest airport lounges in the U.S.” to “lives up to the hype and then some.

“We worked hard to infuse the lounge design with the Capital One ethos,” explains Matt Simpson, studio lead on the project for Studio K.

Capturing that ethos had its share of challenges, including

  • Compliance with strict building and security codes
  • Managing large room acoustics in a busy airport
  • Delivering a signature aesthetic that could be replicated in other airports

“We wanted to present an upholstered feeling,” Simpson says, describing the aesthetic intent. “We performed several studies to identify materials that could deliver an elevated experience and still check the boxes on acoustics and code.”

No-Risk Customization

Consider the ceiling, for example. “We opted for a customized version of an existing ceiling material,” Simpson says. “We wanted to see how far we could push customization of a well-established and available product.”
They went with a smooth-faced panel that resembled engineered drywall or plaster —Decoustics Clean-Air Claro from CertainTeed Architectural. The Claro line is highly customizable and comes with a noise reduction coefficient rating of up to .95 out of a possible 1.0, presenting Capital One Lounge visitors with an audibly restful experience.

Another complication was the space configuration: a trapezoid. The design team wanted something non-directional that would “… create a feeling of movement,” recalls Simpson. They proposed oversized ceiling panels that were meticulously handcrafted in an expansive 4’9” by 9’2” rounded diamond shape. Smaller butterfly panels would close in-between spaces and support lighting, sprinkler, alarm and other overhead requirements. What’s more, the ceiling system had to be fully accessible and seismic certified.

“We ended up specifying an oversized panel that could be popped out and suspended at any point. The tricky part was getting the size just right,” Simpson says. “What was the most efficient size for manufacturing and airport authorities?”

Health & Sustainability with Creative Flair

In addition to exceptional acoustical control, Decoustics Clean-Air Claro offered several advantages that benefit the performance of the space and the health and wellbeing of traveler:

  • Nearly no detectable volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions for improved indoor air quality
  • No-added urea formaldehyde (NAUF) components
  • Certification for high seismicity
  • Safest class A fire rating on finished composite

While the oversized Decoustics Clean-Air Claro ceiling panels dominate the majority of the main lounge area, smaller sections of the space feature aesthetic points of interest with two other CertainTeed Architectural products:

  • Techstyle large-format acoustical ceiling panels — lightweight fabric panels with a honeycomb core in a vibrant custom blue — offer a pop of color in an adjacent space
  • Box 2 Series linear metal ceilings installed in the lounge’s double-story entry space offer eye-catching modern lines that seamlessly transition wall to ceiling.

Simpson says partnering with CertainTeed Architectural as the single-source supplier for all three ceilings helped the entire process run smoothly, from design to specification to installation. Materials arrived as planned, with no overseas delays due to North American sourcing. “CertainTeed was highly responsive throughout design and installation,” Simpson says. “Everyone was on the same page,”

Just the Beginning

Capital One Lounge opened late last year, and the buzz surrounding it is still strong. “I’m humbled by the praise,” Simpson admits. “To see our vision realized like it was, especially during a pandemic, is very gratifying.”

What do you for an encore? Capital One is expected to open similar lounges in Denver and Washington D.C.-Dulles later this year.

Learn more about how ceiling solutions from CertainTeed Architectural can help enhance your next project.