Founder and CEO of Metropolitan Acoustics Felicia Doggett Answers This Question and More in This Quarter’s INCE Member Spotlight.
Last year, the firm Felicia Doggett founded and still leads celebrated 30 years in business. Over that time span, Metropolitan Acoustics has consulted on close to 3,000 projects. Clients for the 20-person firm range from small organizations to companies like Liberty Mutual, Dupont, Amtrak and Siemens.
Between work, running in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, winning the INCE Case Study Member’s Choice Award for Project of the Year and adopting a dog, Felicia was kind enough to answer some of our member spotlight questions. The first question has to do with a really annoying swimmer ... and how Metropolitan Acoustics solved the problem.
Q. Congratulations on winning the INCE Member’s Choice Award Project of the Year competition! The problem outlined in your case study seemed very unusual, to say the least. Can you briefly explain the situation?
Thanks! It’s very exciting to win the inaugural Members’ Choice Award. The project involved a new high-rise condominium building with a pool located on the second level. Residents on the 3rd through 18th floors could hear a low frequency thumping noise in the early morning hours, which turned out to be one of the residents swimming laps who had a very heavy arm stroke.
We conducted a series of vibration measurements and determined that the pool was acting as a cantilever off the two columns on the short end. Shock waves in the pool were hitting the shell, causing it to move slightly in its rigid insulation bed, and since it was only anchored on one side, it was carrying the sound up to the residences. The measured vibration levels in those two columns were much higher as compared to the other columns.
We decided the best solution was to brace the pool to the structural slab and concrete knee walls surrounding it. For good measure, we also used a completely resilient inner layer pool skin to absorb shock waves. After remedial measures were installed and the pool filled up again, we did post-construction testing. It was a complete success as the vibration and sound levels were no higher above the background in any of the residences.
Q. You founded Metropolitan Acoustics, LLC in 1990. Can you tell us a little bit about the company and what inspired you to start it?
Metropolitan Acoustics provides consulting services in interior room acoustics, interior and exterior sound isolation, and building systems noise and vibration control. Basically, anything associated with sound and vibration in and around buildings. We’ve also developed a web-based monitoring platform called SenSV for micro-vibration, audible sound, and ultra-sonic sound specifically for laboratory use; it converts the raw data to 1/3 octave band RMS levels to compare directly to the Vibration Criteria (VC) curves for vibration-sensitive equipment and animal holding rooms. Working on a startup at this point in my career keeps me on my toes.
As for inspiration, I was working for an acoustical consulting firm in Washington DC and moved to Philadelphia in 1990. I was initially employed at a large architectural and engineering company doing their in-house acoustical work. Since I was in the architectural community, I quickly realized that there weren’t any firms in the Philadelphia area doing acoustical consulting and decided to start Metropolitan Acoustics. I was a member of the local Acoustical Society of America chapter and – this is kind of funny – a couple of the guys told me that they tried to start a consulting company but that there wasn’t a market for it. I think that’s been proven wrong!
Q. What fascinates you about noise control and acoustics?
I think the question should be what fascinates me about acoustics and noise control consulting. It never fails to amuse and entertain me how the physics and math of acoustics can be applied to a real-life situation and turn out to be correct. Many times, people can gleefully hear me say “Wow, that really worked!”. Whether it’s designing the acoustics of a theater, figuring out a noise problem caused by an unidentified piece of equipment, or measuring vibration on a footbridge and seeing the fundamental and first harmonic of the structure excite when a jogger goes by, I am always thrilled to see physics in action. The field brings out the natural curiosity and detective work in me – I love solving problems.
Q. Why did you join the INCE Board of Directors and what do you hope to accomplish?
I had never served on boards at the national level. I thought it was time to do that, so when I was nominated for the INCE Board of Directors, I gladly accepted. One of my goals is to increase the awareness and membership of women in the field. As a woman business owner, I have dealt with many of the issues that we encounter frequently. When I first started my company, male clients would ask me all the time if I started the company with my husband. I think it’s important to stress that women are very capable of exceling in our industry. Secondly, I want to help transition INCE into an even more welcoming, diverse and accessible organization.
Q. When you are not working what do you do for fun in Philadelphia?
I’m a huge fan of Philadelphia and there is no lack of fun to be had here. During the pandemic, I developed a new appreciation for our city. I’m a runner and Fairmount Park has plenty of magnificent running trails that I discovered. There’s also a vibrant restaurant scene here, and I love trying new places. And lastly, I adopted a shelter dog in December, who I completely adore and is now our office mascot.
INCE Member Spotlights are an occasional series highlighting an INCE member doing interesting work. Let us know who we should talk with next, email firstname.lastname@example.org.