Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology has embarked on a $24 million sound mitigation project.
The Port Authority has spent $285 million on soundproofing 77 schools in New York and New Jersey since 1983. The Noise Abatement Program helps out schools, such as Vaughn College, which are close to JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and Teterboro airports.
The college’s reconstruction will be funded 80 percent by the Federal Aviation Administration and 20 percent by the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York, through the Noise Abatement Program.
The aeronautics school moved to its location neighboring LaGuardia Runway 4 in 1941. Since then the airport has grown to the major hub it is now, and with this growth the noise levels at the school from planes have escalated to between 72 and 95 decibels.
“[This is] an intensity akin to a lawnmower in the classroom,” according a release from Ciardullo, the architects on the project.
“A 1941 building is not really meant to withstand the sounds and vibrations. We get used to waiting for landings and takeoffs, which doesn’t create the best learning environment,” said Sharon DeVivo, senior vice president at Vaughn College.
Planning for the project began eight to nine years ago, and it should be completed by early 2014, according to DeVivo. The renovation will add a new concrete roof, metal facade and replace the heating and air conditioning system.
“[The new construction] creates space for the noise to go,” DeVivo said. “Heating and ventilation systems is where the sound can leak in.”
A new mechanical building facility will house the new heating and cooling systems.
The new facade will use a combination of deep corrugated metal ribs, flat aluminum metal panels and brick.
“The goal was to achieve a cohesive look to the sprawling 104,000 square-foot school building,” according to Ciardullo.
Despite the efforts, Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia Airport, said the need for the project could be nullified if the airport expanded runway 31, instead of the city building a garbage transfer station next to the airport. During inclement weather the airport must use runway 4, Vaughn College’s adjacent runway, instead of runway 31.
“[A runway expansion for low visibility] would allow significantly more flights to land on runway 31, which would all but solve the noise problems,” Paskar said. “You cannot build a low visibility approach because of the transfer station. You can’t have both.”
DeVivo said she had no opinion on the transfer station construction.