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Campus Showcases Versatile AV

The new Kenyon College Athletic Center shimmers in glass and steel, providing a new focal point to the college's 1,000-acre campus in Gambier, OH. Impressive as the Athletic Center is from the outsid 8/25/2006 10:51 PM Eastern

Campus Showcases Versatile AV

The new Kenyon College Athletic Center shimmers in glass and steel, providing a new focal point to the college's 1,000-acre campus in Gambier, OH. Impressive as the Athletic Center is from the outside, it's equally remarkable within, not only for the quality of its facilities, but also for the flexibility and quality of its building-wide audio and video systems.

CHALLENGE: Create an easy-to-use system to meet the AV needs of dozens of separate meeting and event venues spread throughout a vastnew building.

SOLUTION: Design distinct AV systems for different areas, with the capability to be linked together in any combination through an IP-based control system.

The new Kenyon College Athletic Center shimmers in glass and steel, providing a new focal point to the college's 1,000-acre campus in Gambier, OH.

It's an architecturally striking addition to the distinguished liberal arts college, which boasts a variety of athletic distinctions to go with its outstanding reputation for fine arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences. Impressive as the Athletic Center is from the outside, it's equally remarkable within, not only for the quality of its facilities, but also for the flexibility and quality of its building-wide audio and video systems.

The swim center is the only area of the Kenyon College Athletic Center complex that features video capture and broadcast capability. A pair of Panasonic AW-E350 PTZ cameras routed through a Leitch VDA-16 distribution amplifier deliver a live closed-circuit picture to various campus locations, including “wet” conference rooms in which swimmers can observe and analyze their performances. These conference rooms are equipped with LG MU60PZ95V 60-inch plasma displays with matching speakers, along with JVC VCR units and Philips DVD-CD players.

The swim center is the only area of the Kenyon College Athletic Center complex that features video capture and broadcast capability. A pair of Panasonic AW-E350 PTZ cameras routed through a Leitch VDA-16 distribution amplifier deliver a live closed-circuit picture to various campus locations, including “wet” conference rooms in which swimmers can observe and analyze their performances. These conference rooms are equipped with LG MU60PZ95V 60-inch plasma displays with matching speakers, along with JVC VCR units and Philips DVD-CD players.

Meeting the demand for versatility — allowing any portion of the building to be controlled independently and combined with any other area in any configuration desired — was the main challenge the project presented its AV integrator, SoundCom of Berea, OH.

The 263,000-square-foot building houses a wide variety of spaces with different audio and video requirements. Among the facilities inside the space is a 10,000-square-foot multi-activity court, a 200-meter, six-lane indoor track, a 1,500-seat arena for basketball and volleyball, a swim center with a 50-meter pool, four regulation tennis courts, eight squash and four racquetball courts, and a 12,500-square-foot weight and fitness room. The building also contains a 120-seat movie theater, along with a variety of conference rooms and other facilities.

Nearly all of these spaces have audio, and one also includes video capture and display capabilities. Although some spaces were designed for specific functions, many are multipurpose areas whose audio requirements vary from event to event. With so many different spaces, users, and functions, it was critical to craft systems that would meet the client's need for maximum flexibility and ease of use.

“The building itself is nothing short of massive, but the design of the audio and video systems was actually fairly straightforward,” says Brad Kestner, operations manager at SoundCom.

The center was designed by the Gund Partnership architectural firm in Cambridge, MA, and Cambridge-based Acentech Inc. served as the AV consultant on the project.

The original specifications called for an AMX control system, and most decisions concerning the exact functionalities for the different areas were worked out between the client and SoundCom. “We went direct to the owner, met with them via the construction manager, and showed them examples of end-user interface options,” Kestner explains. “The owners were a bit undecided on certain factors early on, and it became a bit of a moving target.”



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Campus Showcases Versatile AV

The new Kenyon College Athletic Center shimmers in glass and steel, providing a new focal point to the college's 1,000-acre campus in Gambier, OH. Impressive as the Athletic Center is from the outside, it's equally remarkable within, not only for the quality of its facilities, but also for the flexibility and quality of its building-wide audio and video systems.

SoundCom aimed to provide the necessary flexibility by designing a series of mobile carts —each holding source and control equipment. The carts can move throughout the building and plug into wall plates in various locations.

The carts are equipped with Shure U4D UHF wireless microphone systems, Denon DNT645 CD-cassette combo units, an Ashly MX-508 eight-channel stereo mixer, and an AMX AXDCV6 color video touchpanel. The carts interface with Symetrix 8x8 DSP units and AMX NI-2000 master controllers.

The audio system, especially in the larger spaces, needed to provide both speech intelligibility and good musical reproduction. For many areas of the project, the R Series loudspeakers from Community fit the bill.

“The R Series was the best choice in terms of coverage, throw distance, and sound quality,” Kestner says.

He also notes that the weatherproof quality of the R Series played a role in this specification, particularly because some parts of the building, like the natatorium, were extremely humid and presented condensation risks.

The indoor track area boasts 48 Community R1-66X two-way, full-range systems, while the tennis court area is covered by a dozen R1-66X loudspeakers, and the natatorium has 18 R1-66X loudspeakers.

In the basketball/volleyball arena, SoundCom hung two JBL AM6315 arrays as main speakers for pep rallies and other events, together with 10 JBL AM4212 speakers for side fill. The space can also accommodate a front-of-house mix position, as well as additional sound systems for concerts and musical events.

For video capabilities, the theater is served by a Sony VPL-FX52L LCD projector and an acoustically transparent Stewart custom AT-2M projection screen.

Video also comes into play in the swim center — the only area of the Kenyon complex with video capture and broadcast capability. A pair of Panasonic AW-E350 PTZ cameras is routed through a Leitch VDA-16 distribution amplifier to deliver a live closed-circuit picture to various campus locations.

Among those locations are “wet” conference rooms in which swimmers can observe and analyze their performances. These conference rooms are equipped with LG MU60PZ95V 60-inch plasma displays with matching speakers, along with JVC VCR units and Philips DVD-CD players. These video capabilities offer a powerful coaching resource as well as an opportunity to view events on TV as they occur in the pool.

 

 



Campus Showcases Versatile AV

The new Kenyon College Athletic Center shimmers in glass and steel, providing a new focal point to the college's 1,000-acre campus in Gambier, OH. Impressive as the Athletic Center is from the outside, it's equally remarkable within, not only for the quality of its facilities, but also for the flexibility and quality of its building-wide audio and video systems.

More video displays enliven the weight and exercise room, which offers seven LG H27G 27-inch high-resolution TV monitors, and the varsity locker rooms, where users find another 10 JVC LCD high-resolution monitors provided by the college, tied to LG ZDX313 VCR/DVD units.

The physical installation of the systems presented a variety of challenges. The center had been designed as “a big hangar,” says Kestner, “and then they went through and erected a second floor in the middle.”

Executing cable pulls, and accessing equipment mounting points in the building's highest areas meant that lifts had to be delivered to the second floor. “Once the second floor had gone in, there were load restrictions on how much weight we could bring up there,” Kestner says. “It turned out there was only one type of power lift that met those weight limits, and there were just three of them in the entire state.”

The lifts SoundCom needed were Genie TZ-50s, which have a maximum working height of 55.5 feet, with a lift capacity of up to 500 pounds, and weigh about 4,400 pounds. Although they seemed to fit the requirements, finding them and getting them where they were needed weren't easy tasks.

Rather than let the lifts slip away, SoundCom committed to keep the lifts onsite, even when they weren't being used. “Even when we weren't using them, we paid for them,” he says, noting that each lift cost $1,400 per month, and that they were kept available onsite for six months.

Using the lifts on the second floor required that the AV install work be completed before the second level was completely enclosed in glass. “We had to have the construction manager use a grade-all to get the lifts up to the second floor,” Kestner says.

Cable pulls were also a bit tricky. Although the cable distribution system wasn't very complex, Kestner says, doing cable pulls up to 70 feet above the floor was an unusual scenario.

In all, SoundCom was onsite for 10 months. The Kenyon Athletic Center formally opened in April.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

John McKeon is an independent consultant and writer based in the Washington D.C. area. He can be reached at jjmckeon@comcast.net. His new novel, “Demented Choirs,” can be previewed at www.dementedchoirs.com.



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