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To download a pdf version of the project statement, please click here.

Project Objective

Design the “ceiling system” that will be over your heads about 10 years from now. Think about how to make that space over your heads more valuable, more useful, more functional to the target market. What “problems” could this overhead plane solve?  

Project Background

Armstrong World Industries ( is a 145-year-old building products company with over 14,000 employees and over 4 billion dollars in annual sales. The Building Products Division of the company is perhaps best known for providing suspended “drop ceilings” and wall panels. The Division also provides decidedly high-end interior finishes through its Architectural Specialties Group and other specialty board-like products used in the construction industry.

People buy Armstrong’s ceiling products to solve some, or all, of the following problems:

  • Provide a level of acoustic absorption (so spaces are not too noisy)
  • Enhance the level of fire resistance of the building structure
  • Define the space and scale of a room
  • Provide support and organization for other overhead elements like lights and air diffusers
  • Enhance the lighting of a space (by increasing light reflectance of the fixtures)
  • Conceal the “clutter” of drains, sprinkler piping, pipes, wiring, ductwork, and building structure
  • Form a return air plenum for some air conditioning systems
  • Enhance the aesthetic appeal of a space
  • Differentiate a space, make it “unique” and personal, express a public image

Armstrong’s market is influenced to some degree by all of the following factors and trends:

  • Level of investments in new construction and renovation
  • An aging population
  • A declining pool of people involved in the construction industry
  • Rising energy costs for manufacturing
  • Rising energy costs for operating buildings (customer viewpoint)
  • A desire to use materials that are sustainable, replaceable, and recyclable
  • Economic growth in China and India
  • Greater access to technology
  • Declining fossil fuels
  • A need to use other energy sources
  • Ubiquitous access to computing, information, and communications
  • Ecosystems under stress (scarcity of energy, water, etc.)
  • Regional disparities in the quality of life

Project Requirements

Your team should provide a design for the “ceiling system” that will be over your heads about 10 years from now. The design should make that space over your heads more valuable, more useful, and more functional to the target market. Additional considerations include

  • System MUST comply with existing building codes addressing fire and seismic performance.
  • System MUST still provide a useful level of acoustic correction to a space.
  • Likely cost of the system MUST be reasonable and in-line with the function it provides.
    • Typical office building costs from $80 to $120 dollars per square foot.
    • Typical overhead ceiling finishes cost $1.00 to $15.00 per square foot.
  • You are NOT constrained to the materials, manufacturing processes, and installation approaches we employ today.

Key Deliverables:

Note: Your instructor will clarify his or her expectations for these deliverables and their respective due dates.

  • Technical report on Web
    • The format for the first page of your website will be given to you and all requested material must be provided
    • Project description
    • Trade studies
    • CAD drawings detailing the design solution(s) for the ceiling concept
    • Description of installation method
    • Cost estimate per square foot installed
  • Test data for acoustic correction
  • Prototype/model of system
  • Complete list of design concepts showing top 4–5 initial selections

Materials Provided:

  • Sample ceiling systems and materials
  • Simplified building codes
  • Test equipment to make acoustic correction measurements Reference material and websites on relevant materials and technologies
  • Website for design project:
  • Additional materials will be provided as the semester proceeds


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