In the first few weeks of thesis work I changed my site from an open square lot to, in my opinion, a much more interesting shaped site. I originally chose it due to this shape and its location in relevance to other children’s health care centers affiliated to Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital, but as I moved through my site analysis I noticed a lot of issues with my site such as, undesirable views, size restraints, and a train track that is too close for comfort. I raised concern to my professors, who to my surprise did not want me to change my site again. They told me the site was less desirable from a reasonable standpoint obviously, but that these factors I listed are the problems that will make the design unique and far more interesting as a solution to more than one problem.
I immediately began research on tactics of design for buildings near train tracks, as I find it the most sensitive issue to be addressed on my list. I found that trains produce between 90-100 dB(a) and in the housing examples I found it was said that people are comfortable with 35-45 dB(a) of noise. So I am under the assumption currently that a health care center would allow 10 dB(a) as a maximum. The following are two examples of the tactics I found that will more than likely be used in my design solution:
Noise barriers are by far the most common form of noise reduction in design. This tactic is said to have the capabilities of blocking 15 dB(a) of noise. The wall must be nearly as tall as the building on site, and land mounds can be used in combination with the wall. The upper levels will take more of the noise than the lower levels. The barrier should run along the entire site.
Heavy wall construction is the second most common form of noise reduction. The sound transmission class (STC) of a wall is typically equivalent to its dB(a) of noise blocking capabilities. A concrete wall that is 4-8 inches wide has an STC of 40-50. Windows would also need to be double paneled to increase their STC.
The research suggests that the elevation nearest the train tracks should have minimal openings, such as doors and windows. However this edge is the one receiving the prime sunlight throughout the day. Basically it looks like I have my work cut out for me!