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AV Integration

There is some discussion about what AV integration is. Who is a consultant, who is a contractor, and who is an integrator? In one great sense, it makes no difference.

AV Integration

Dec 15, 2004 4:49 PM,
By Tom Corbett

There is some discussion about what AV integration is. Who is a consultant, who is a contractor, and who is an integrator? In one great sense, it makes no difference. The owner wants a system installed to meet a purpose. The purpose may or may not be well defined; the owner may or may not have a strong sense of detail; and the architect may or may not have a visual metaphor. The consultant, the installer, the owner, the architect, and the user group all work together to make a room useful for the short and long term.

An owner’s request for media will likely require the services of a specialist or consultant to program the request into systems useful for their purpose. Besides meeting a technical intent, these systems must also fit into the building’s or room’s architecture. Typically, planning audio and/or video systems involves small or large group massing of an audience and in some way affects the people flow through a space.

Beginning a Program

To begin a program for a room, some initial choices can narrow down the design intent. (Select at least one item from each category.)

Building a System Concept

To build a system concept within any given venue, audio and video systems can be reviewed individually. To begin a program for a system, some initial choices can narrow down the design intent.

Selecting Technical Criteria

And, just to remain honest, some technical criteria must be reviewed as fundamental to any size or purpose installation. Although these criteria may not be individually written into a system program, they are fundamental to the success of any installation.

Creating a Design Process

The following represents a linear design process for AV installations. Items in this timeline sometimes overlap. When a sign-off does not conclude one stage and initiate another, however, the decision process is compromised and areas of uncertainty and dispute can arise. Even friends need clear understandings to reflect basis of agreement. And, just as money has ruined friendships, the completed project is the reflection of business understandings.

1. Meet with owner to outline the project requirements.

2. Prepare a program document.

3. Review and approve requirements.

4. Prepare the details: budget, special requirements.

5. Mass the audience or listener/viewer placement and sight lines.
6. Study coverage and sight lines.

7. Submit to owner for approval.

8. Develop a design: Integrate functional and architectural details.

9. Outline control issues and present control solution.

10. Prepare contract documents.

11. Issue contract documents.

12. Issue bid documents to preselected contractors.

13. Award the project based upon financial and functional bid response.

14. Administer the contract: Coordinate onsite between trades and expectations.

15. Test acceptance: Verify installation performance and contract requirements.


Anticipate the problem areas of the project. There are many issues which can cause misunderstandings, can derail the decision train, or can otherwise compromise the project. Be aware of these areas of potential conflict.

1. Unrealistic Budgets: Champagne taste on a beer budget.

2. Overblown desires: Too expensive or too complicated.

3. Indecision: Believing that a better product is available tomorrow.

4. Diffuse authority: Lack of a single point of control will provide an uncoordinated project.

5. Poor leadership: Lack of a strong coach – with style.

6. Conflicting goals: All design trades will have individual criteria for success.

7. Disunified team: Each person will have an opinion, but each team should have one goal.

8. Division of responsibility: It’s not my responsibility to do your job.

9. Incompatible aesthetics: Not even the visual and the aural aesthetic will necessarily fit together.

Constructing a Team

Delegate authority; construct a chain of command. Define an end date for the project and for milestone goals on a master timeline. Design the systems and then don’t continually redesign. Yes, new features will be forthcoming while the building is under construction. But with a well defined prime goal, new features may be properly relegated to the category of toy or tool. Project leadership is important in defining the systems form and function, in designing its look and feel, in implementing the installation, and in testing and verifying the results. This is project management.

AV Integration

The entire team of design and construction is for the owner. The entire team should remain committed to the owner for that owner is paying the bills. The owner, or owner’s representative, is charged with completing the installation. The AV team is there to provide a service in helping articulate the goals, define purpose, outline and refine the system details, verify the installation, and train the user. The design goals and the owner relationship are all for the owner.

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