Wake Forest University School of Business Farrell Hall Gets an AV Refresh with Extron Control & NAV Pro AV over IP
The retrofit project went smoothly. Nearly all necessary cabling was already in place. Use of NAV also resulted in significant savings in rack space.
The Wake Forest University School of Business is the graduate business school of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It held its first graduating class commencement in 1973. Today, the school offers undergraduate programs with Bachelor of Science majors in finance, accounting, mathematical business, and business enterprise management. Graduate business programs include an MBA, MS in Management, MS in Accounting, and MS in Business Analytics.
Farrell Hall, opened in 2013, is the 130,000 square foot home of the School of Business. The building was designed to streamline and inspire scholarly work, collaboration, and faculty-student interaction by integrating state-of-the-art technology, flexible meeting spaces and classrooms, and dedicated social spaces.
Jay Bunthoff, Multimedia Manager in Wake Forest’s Information Services department, worked with Winston-Salem based pro AV integrator Recursav, LLC to perform a 3-year phased retrofit of existing AV distribution and control systems in Farrell Hall. The retrofit began in the Fall of 2021 with installation of 16 NAV® Pro AV over IP endpoints in each of two divisible classrooms. An auditorium received 14 NAV endpoints during the Fall 2022 term. To complete the project, 14 standard classrooms will receive NAV upgrades after the integrator for that phase is selected in a competitive bidding process.
By 2021, the non-Extron AV systems first installed in 2013 were becoming unreliable. For a building that serves students literally day and night, that was unacceptable. The priority was to restore stability to the AV technology in a manner that replicated the original design, specifically the look and feel of the control system. AV over IP offered multiple advantages, including cost savings and reduced installation time. Firstly, it allows for the reuse of the shielded twisted pair cabling that's already in place. Secondly, it demands fewer AV components, which are also smaller in size. This leads to a reduction in rack space and power requirements. Furthermore, the scalability of AV over IP aligns with future plans to enhance the AV network architecture. In this envisioned setup, small network switches in each classroom would function as independent, self-contained subnets. However, they can still be interconnected for room-to-room AV content sharing. In addition to choosing Extron NAV for AV over IP connectivity, the AV control system was transitioned to Extron IP Link® Pro control processors and TouchLink® Pro touchpanels. The transition from the old control system to the new Extron system was straightforward and the new control interfaces have a very familiar look and feel.
Recursav programmed the TouchLink Pro touchpanels to replicate the look and feel of the non-Extron user interfaces that were replaced. When the new AV system went live, I noticed that the new touchpanels provide a crisper response than the panels that were replaced. I received zero calls from users for assistance with the new system. That indicates to me that end users didn’t even notice the change, which was the goal.
There are two divisible learning spaces located on separate levels of Farrell Hall, providing four identical classrooms when the dividers are deployed. Each room contains mirror image AV systems on either side of the divider, consisting of an AV-equipped lectern, two laser projectors, a 70" flat panel display, and a sound system equipped with digital audio signal routing and processing. An AV rack is common to both sides of each divisible room, providing a PoE-enabled network switch, an AV content recorder for lecture capture, sound system components, and an AV control processor.
AV-Equipped Lecterns. AV program sources available from the lecterns include a resident PC and Apple TV® media player. Guest devices also serve as AV program sources, plugging-in via HDMI, USB, and DisplayPort cables accessible through a Cable Cubby® built into the top of the lectern. A PTZ camera in each of the four rooms captures room video. Voice audio from presenters and the audience is picked-up by a ceiling mic array, wireless bodypack and handheld mics, and a gooseneck lectern mic. For web conferencing, audio and video from each room connect to the room’s lectern PC via an SDI-to-USB frame grabber.
AV over IP via Existing Cables. NAV Pro AV over IP encoders send AV content from the lecterns to the network switch in the AV rack servicing both sides of each divisible room. The network switch distributes the AV content to the displays and the sound system via NAV Pro AV over IP scaling decoders. All AV over IP connectivity is via the existing CATx cable plant carried over from the old AV system. No new cable pulls were required, which saved considerable time and expense.
Clear Sound Heard Over Classroom Speakers. In each side of the divisible classrooms, occupants hear voice and program audio over a combination of surface-mount speakers and SF 26CT SoundField® ceiling speakers. All speakers are driven by an XPA U 1004 SB amplifier fed by analog audio outputs from the audio processor.
Lectern Touchpanels Provide Room Control. TLP Pro 1025T touchpanels on each lectern provide the user interface. Control functions are anchored by an IPCP Pro 555Q xi control processor and a NAVigator AV over IP system manager. The control processor not only controls the AV system, but also room lighting and projection screen raise-lower. The NAVigator assigns, configures, and switches endpoints for signal distribution on the AV over IP network.
The Broyhill Auditorium on the lower level of Farrell Hall is equipped with a full complement of AV equipment that allows it to host large gatherings for seminars, lectures, presentations, and professional theatrical productions.
Similar to the divisible classrooms, the auditorium is outfitted with a NAV Pro AV over IP network that connects all video and audio sources to the venue's many displays and speakers. NAV encoders also extend AV content from the auditorium to other areas of the building.
Auditorium Lectern and Control Booth. The on-stage lectern and the control booth have AV capabilities similar to the lecterns in the classrooms. They deliver the same variety of AV source signals, include an AV content recorder for lecture capture, are equipped for web conferencing, and have TouchLink Pro touchpanels for control of AV system functions and room lighting. The auditorium has three PTZ cameras; two at the front facing the audience, and one at the back facing the stage. The control booth has stereo monitor speakers powered by an XPA U 1002 amplifier. In common with the divisible classrooms, the auditorium uses an IPCP Pro 555Q xi control processor and NAVigator for AV system and room control functions, and for AV over IP network configuration.
Auditorium Displays and Sound System. The auditorium’s displays and sound system support the sophisticated events hosted there. The projection room is equipped with a laser projector. There are two 50" flat panel display confidence monitors in the main auditorium and two 70" flat panel displays in the entry lobby and adjoining hallway. The Green Room has a 70" flat panel display. All displays are fed content via the AV over IP network with NAV scaling decoders at each display supplying HDMI signals to the displays. Sound in the auditorium comes from theater-caliber powered full-range stereo and subwoofer speakers at stage-left and stage-right with dual inputs to receive analog audio and digital audio. In the Green Room, sound is provided by a ceiling-mounted SF 26CT speaker driven by an MPA 601 amplifier. Eight SF 26CT speakers supply sound in the entry lobby.
Farrell Hall contains 14 standard classrooms that accommodate smaller classes. As with AV systems throughout the building, the standard classrooms rely on AV over IP for distribution of AV content. The AV system designs are consistent with the larger venues in the building to make operation and maintenance of AV systems seamless across the entire facility.
The standard classroom AV system consists of an AV-equipped lectern, two laser projectors, two flat panel displays, a PTZ camera (with camera tracking capability in two of the rooms), and a sound system equipped with digital audio signal routing and processing. Each room includes an AV closet housing a PoE-enabled network switch, an AV content recorder for lecture capture, sound system components, and an AV control processor. The network switch distributes the AV content to the displays and the sound system via NAV Pro AV over IP scaling decoders.
Standard Classroom Lecterns. The lecterns contain a PC for originating teaching content, an Apple TV media player, and active format conversion cables for connecting guest devices via HDMI, USB, and DisplayPort. Audio and video from the room are connected to a second PC via an SDI-to-USB frame grabber for use by a web conferencing application that runs on the PC for conducting remote sessions.
We recommended NAV Pro AV over IP for Wake Forest University’s project because it met their requirement for rock-solid reliability. Their NAV systems have been up and running problem-free for over two years. Based on that experience, we are confidently advising NAV Pro AV over IP solutions to other clients.
Standard Classroom Sound System. Voice audio from presenters and students is picked-up by a ceiling mic array, wireless bodypack and handheld mics, and a gooseneck lectern mic. Three of the classrooms are equipped with push-to-talk wired mics at 24 student desk positions.
An XPA U 1004 SB amplifier, fed by analog audio from an audio processor, provides voice and program audio to room occupants. The amplifier drives a combination of surface-mount speakers and SF 26CT SoundField ceiling speakers.
Standard Classroom AV Control. A 10" TLP Pro 1025T touchpanel on the lectern provides the user interface. Control functions in each room are performed by an IPCP Pro 360Q xi control processor. The control processor monitors and controls the AV system, room lighting, window shades, and projection screens. The control processor is augmented by an IPA T RLY4 unit that adds the relay closures for projection screen control and an IPL EXP RIO8 I/O Expansion Interface reacts to the student push-to-talk mic buttons in rooms that are equipped with these mics. In addition to the control processor, each standard classroom includes a NAVigator AV over IP system manager to configure, switch, and manage endpoints for signal distribution on each room’s AV over IP network.
At Farrell Hall, elegant Georgian architecture encloses a stunning modern interior, connecting Wake Forest’s rich history to its cutting-edge future. State-of-the-art technology is present throughout to enhance teaching and communication. Extron AV switching, distribution, and control systems, anchored by NAV Pro AV over IP, were selected to retrofit previously installed AV technology to enhance reliability and to provide scalability for future growth. The phased rebuilding of existing AV racks, the control system programming, and the system commissioning went smoothly. Each retrofit phase was accomplished in a week or less, resulting in minimal disruption to academic activities.
By design, the retrofit did not change public-facing features or functionality of the affected rooms, so there was no learning curve for people accustomed to using the previous AV systems. Students, faculty, and administrators are all satisfied with their improved AV tools. Based on that, Jay Bunthoff believes that he made the right decision to go with NAV Pro AV over IP. Jay already has expansion plans on the drawing board.
Unlike our experience with the equipment replaced by the retrofit, the NAV system has stayed online and has remained completely maintenance-free.
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