Determined to break the mold of typical informal and formal learning spaces, Chicago-based Saint Xavier University wanted to create student-centered collaborative learning spaces that allowed students to move beyond consuming information and to become curators and creators of ideas, concepts, and data. For a school founded in 1846, it had some serious ideas about what the modern education experience should look like, and it turned to Level 3 Audiovisual to assist with the design of technology systems for the campus it was building in Gilbert, AZ.
“It was our strategic goal to shift the instructor-student relationship by designing learning spaces that put the student at the center of the learning experience,” says Dr. Chris Zakrzewski, Assistant Provost for Technology and Instructional Innovation at Saint Xavier.
Level 3 Audiovisual needed to find the right blend of AV equipment for campus-wide collaboration in each of its classrooms, nine collaboration learning studios, five nursing simulation labs, three control rooms, and a 250-seat auditorium.
The campus also wanted a 16-foot mosaic architectural videowall in the main entrance to welcome students and visitors and to telegraph the high-tech environment waiting inside.
“The goal of the wall was to provide the ‘wow factor’ as people first enter the building,” says Brent Durbin, Project Manager for Level 3 Audiovisual. “Located in the front lobby, it provides the first glimpse into the technological features throughout the building.”
And wow they did, with a creative and technologically artistic element featuring a custom-designed 16-foot Planar Mosaic videowall located at the entrance of the building. It utilizes 19 strategically placed and varyingly sized LED panels in a design that is completely unique to Saint Xavier.
Planar Mosaic videowalls are available in three different sizes of LCD display (22in., 46in., and 55in.), incorporate LED backlight technology, and have an installation profile of less than four inches. Tiles can be mounted in any position relative to each other, and individually at almost any angle. Then, to display content, each tile is programmed at the time of installation to know its own location and orientation relative to the others.
“One of the challenges with this wall is that it is layered at three different levels,” says Durbin. “Layer one mounts flush with the wall, layer two is spaced out with the available Planar spacers, but layer three required a custom fabricated spacer to provide the necessary clearance. We enlisted a local machine shop to create a custom bracket that was capable of sup- porting the weight of the Planar tile, yet was still aesthetically pleasing.”
The school uses the videowall to show custom 4k video content made by students from local art programs, as well as stunning photographs from around the world. The visual imagery and experience of this artistic feature, near the entrance to the building, gives visitors a glimpse into the overall level of technology incorporated into the building. This was a major goal of Saint Xavier’s and what they achieved went beyond what they had imagined.
“As with the entire project, SXU is thrilled with the final result,” says Durbin. “It is a showcase building, and everyone involved in the project is certainly proud of it.”
The welcome wall at Saint Xavier University is a Digital Signage Expo 2016 Apex Award finalist; winning projects will be announced at Digital Signage Expo.