The newly constructed building in Philadelphia is a testament to what can happen when the right technology is designed and installed by the right team. The 400,000 square foot building is home to research and office space and, every aspect of the building is meant to foster connection and collaboration with others on campus as well as around the world.
What sets the pace for the building’s AV systems is the impressive video wall in the lobby, consisting of 180 Christie MicroTiles. This video wall is currently the second largest MicroTiles installation in a public space. AV consultant Bruce Manning-CTS of Cerami & Associates and Jim Herr of Rafael Vinoly Architects worked closely with Advanced AV project engineer Kevin McGinniss, sales representative Eric Bixler, technicians Frank O’Hara and Brian Van Buskirk, and director of systems integration Scott Randinelli to ensure a seamless integration of MicroTiles, a Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steerable column loudspeaker, and subwoofers into one structure.
While passers-by only see a clean, flat wall with eye-popping video and images, an entire team worked on the video wall surround, including L.F. Driscoll, J.P. Rainey, Dale Construction, Donovan Sheet Metal, National Glass & Metal, and wall covering contractor Hispanic Ventures. The steel support for the video wall was provided by RP Visuals, assisted by M.Gitlin Company. Central Metals/Roma Steel assisted with fitting and welding of the support structure.
More than just eye candy, the Christie MicroTiles video wall is also connected to the building’s fiber optic network and outfitted with a SONY BRC-H700 high definition camera, giving any user the ability to videoconference from there. The video wall is controlled by an AMX NXT-1500V touch panel. The video wall’s total AV package is flexible enough for use as pre-function entertaining, distance learning, or for presentations.
“At the time of project inception, the video wall was a wish list item due to the limitations of the technology available at that time,” says Manning. “After reviewing the options with the client, the video wall was shelved. Mid-way through the project, MicroTiles became available and it fit the space, budget, and needs of the client perfectly.”
Bixler adds, “The depth behind the video wall amounts to approximately two feet; it is a tight space. We were able to minimize the space needed because you can access MicroTiles cubes from the front if maintenance is needed.”
The video wall uses a Christie Spyder X20 video processor for image management. “Using Vista, Spyder X20, in conjunction with the MicroTiles creates a stable, seamless system that operates very well,” says Kevin McDonald, northeast regional sales manager for Christie, who worked closely with the project team.
In addition to ease of maintenance, McDonald says that the MicroTiles video wall can achieve rich color depth and high contrast, perfect for reproducing the high resolution images used and produced by the research staff. “There is no glare even in a high ambient light environment like the lobby, and there is a greater longevity to the product since there are no consumables like lamps or filters that need replacing,” he explains.
The scope of AV technology extends beyond the video wall to the building’s 240 seat auditorium. From this space, users have an extensive ability to connect and share content within the building and with other properties on- and off-campus. A fiber transport connects the video wall and auditorium to conference, meeting, and training rooms upstairs. “The client’s idea was to have a facility that’s truly connected,” explains Manning. “The goal was to have consistent technology across all rooms, so they all function in the same way.”
The auditorium’s AV is complex, yet is integrated in such a way that audience members see minimal technology. A Christie HD10K-M projector displays content on a Draper Signature Series V 16-9 format with 220” diagonal screen, flanked by two NEC LCD8205 82” displays. Four SONY BRC-H700 high definition cameras capture everything that is happening on stage. The presenter’s custom-designed podium is outfitted with an AMX NXT-CV7 touch panel to control the room’s AV and a Smart Sympodium ID 422W monitor. Any presentation can be recorded and streamed using a Sonic Foundry Mediasite RL Recorder and VBrick Systems encoder located in the building’s master control room.
Like all AV systems in the building, the auditorium’s AV is self-run. A presenter can send the presentation stream to any room in the building by pressing a button on the AMX control panel without the need for additional tech support. If necessary, a technician in the master control room can provide remote assistance using an AMX NXT-1200V touch panel to any user in the building while also monitoring other users and allocating resources. “The auditorium sets the bar for AV system performance in the building,” says Bixler. “Due to the proper technology selections, we were able to rooms and AV systems to the overall campus infrastructure without tasking their support model.”
Manning concludes, “The project’s success is in the way the team came together and communicated so well; great engineering and project management throughout.”