A recent article in Architect Magazine discussed security needs and the ever-present desire to integrate systems and equipment with the physical design. The need to secure the spaces in which we live, work, learn and play is a key component to the success of any project – and this needs to be discussed at the earliest stages of the design team’s involvement. The main point of the article is essentially that security doesn’t have to be “in your face” if it is properly planned and designed.
Previously published on AVNetwork.com
Let's be practical. There are a lot of great collaboration solutions out there that can greatly enhance the educational pedagogy and student workflow, but many higher-ed institutions don't necessarily have the budget or immediate desire for such implementation. So we need to explore solutions that fit the direct needs of the end user: the instructor and student. For this, I will classify classroom collaboration into three categories: instructor centric, instructor centric with student interaction, and student centric.
Instructor Centric: In order to determine a collaboration solution, we first need to identify the end-user workflow and pedagogy. The majority of instructors just want a modern way to display and share information to their students. This includes being able to mirror their mobile devices, as well as using cloud-based platforms for distributing content. As an adjunct college instructor myself, this is the first solution I researched for my own professional use.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I sat down with Julie Fischer to get her thoughts on being a women in the acoustical design profession. Julie Fischer is a Senior Associate in SM&W’s Washington DC office and has over 10 years of experience in acoustical consulting.
Previously published on AVNetwork.com
The world of digital audio networks has shown some promise recently. The campaign between AVB and Dante has been gaining speed, and so far there is no clear winner. However, I ask the question, does there have to be one? Lately there has been a great adoption of networked audio protocols in the professional and prosumer markets. There appears to be some great use cases for both network types and, with the development of AES-67, we may start to see some interoperability and progress towards a unified network. Now that may seem like a pipe dream, so let’s look at some current examples of how digital audio networks are being used in live and recording situations as it relates to digital consoles.
This was first published by SMPS-Marketer Magazine in their February 2016 issue
By Meredith Lovejoy, Shen Milsom & Wilke LLC, and Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Dattner Architects
Until 1980, architects were banned from using competitive tools and techniques to proactively seek clients or communicate the value of their services. In our 35-year professional history, marketers have championed tremendous innovation.
By: Jarrod Whittington
Kudos to Michael Kimmelman for his article on why sound should matter to architects (Dear Architects: Sound Matters). Sound is an often over-looked but no less crucial aspect of building design. However, I couldn't help but notice the article didn’t include the opinion of someone who works with architectural sound for a living. As an acoustical consultant, I spend a significant amount of time making a case for the benefits of good sound in all types of environments.
Reverberation is something doesn't always get much attention in building design, outside of performance halls, theaters, and recording studios. To an extent, I agree with Renzo Piano that “we need reverberation” in our lives. Having spent time working in an Anechoic Chamber, which is a room where nearly all reverberation has been eliminated, I can tell you that it can be a disquieting experience (pun intended). But there are also many situations where reverberation can be problematic, such as in learning environments or areas where public address is a matter of life safety. Good acoustic design lies in understanding the distinction of what type of acoustic environment is appropriate for the use of the space.
Previously published on AVNetwork.com
2015 was a great year for the world of AV. Some allegiances were formed that show promise for the future of AV/IT convergence. Based on the trends that 2015 has built upon, we can make some pretty educated guesses. Here are some trends that I think will continue as we move into 2016.
By: Robert McFarlane
Article also published at TechTarget.com
This is a continuation of the first part of this series discussing the viewing experience in room design.
“Can you hear me now?”
This marketing slogan is, unfortunately, often voiced during video and audio conferences. Video is an integral part of a conference, but, if we can’t hear each other, communication stops, regardless of whether we can see each other. Or, even more frustrating, we can hear each other, but we can’t understand each other. Why does this happen, and how do we improve it?
Written by: Robert Tanen, Associate Consultant, Acoustics
As an acoustical consultant, the biggest challenge is not always identifying the problem, but rather identifying the correct approach to address said problem. We deal in a world of predominantly invisible phenomena – noise and vibration. Unless you are lucky enough to watch a jet blast through the sound barrier and cause a sonic boom or have a tall glass of water displaying rippling waves – most of the time you don’t see acoustics, you experience them.
Knowing that, we have to adapt a way of thinking that adequately addresses acoustic/vibratory concerns in the most efficient (cost & time) and effective way possible. In any acoustic issue there are usually three major points: the source, the path and the receiver. That just so happens to be the exact order in which we try to address most problems. The best way to illustrate this is to go through each of the three points and briefly explain the acoustic approach.
By Randy Tritz, CTS-D
Published on AV Network 9/29/2015
Some people believe the Internet of Things (IoT) is new. While it may be a new concept to the audiovisual industry, this phenomenon began in 1993 when students at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications, a research institute at the University of Illinois, unleashed the first web browser interface called Mosaic, which served as the genesis of the proliferation of the internet as we know it today.
Previously published on AVNetwork
Video processing today has evolved beyond hulking processors with expansive card slots. With PC's getting more powerful and IP integration taking hold, the old ways of video processing are not necessary for most applications. There will always be those specific applications that require the traditional video processor operational flow, but this article will focus on a typical everyday video processing requirements that seem to happen more often than those specialized situations.
Healthcare facilities are requiring ever more stringent necessities for patient care and comfort. The need for acoustical control in healthcare facilities was born out of guidelines developed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for patient / doctor confidentiality and privacy. These subjective guidelines were then further developed and incorporated into an objective standard for acoustical design of healthcare facilities. The most recent document is the “2014 Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI): Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Outpatient Facilities”. As part of this comprehensive guideline is a specific area related to acoustical design. This section of the guideline was developed and reviewed by professionals from all aspects of the acoustical community, including members of the SM&W company wide acoustical department. From the earliest versions of the guideline dating back to 2006 to the most recent incarnation, acoustical criteria and design approaches have been refined to be as effective, yet pragmatic as possible. The requirement to implement these guidelines varies by state with some having a mandate to adopt while others offering it as an option for best practices.
Tags: Acoustics, Architects, background noise, demising partitions, FGI Guidelines, HIPAA, HVAC, laboratory Sound Transmission Class STC, medical equipment planners, noise privacy, sound separation, structural design, Vibration, vibration control
Also published on AVNetwork.com
According to a recent study by the Bureau of Labor and Employment, Millennials make up about 43% of the work force today. Baby boomers take second, with Generation X trailing in third. According to this study, Generation X never managed to snag the top spot away from the Baby Boomers. So what does this mean for the AV industry?
Youth in the AV industry cannot be placed into a single category. We see many people entering the industry with interests that extend beyond the audiovisual realm. The youth entering the workforce are looking for positions that utilize all they have to offer, while continuing to challenge them. We want employers that see our value beyond our job description, and encourage that initiative to feed our drive to better our industry. Something I quickly noticed is that there are many different ways to break into the AV industry, and sometimes it is pleasantly unexpected. Of course, I can talk most confidently about my own origin story.
By: Jon Burris, retired Partner at Shen Milsom & Wilke; Deirdre Woods, Principal at Deirdre Woods Technology Advisors and former CIO of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The world of higher education is in a period of enormous change. Not only are teaching and learning practices rapidly evolving, but higher education’s primary economic model is being called into question. Technology is central to these changes and the demands on information and instructional technology are increasing exponentially; the job of the campus CIO has never been more demanding.
SM&W wanted to get an in-depth understanding of these developments’ impacts on technology operations in higher education. To this end, two SM&W Board Members, Deirdre Woods, former CIO of the Wharton School; and Jon Burris, a retired SM&W Partner, were charged with conducting interviews with individuals in senior positions in IT and/or classroom technology at major universities. Our criterion: the individual must be responsible for strategic planning and day-to-day operations of IT and/or instructional technology. We spoke mostly to CIOs and those one level down in the hierarchy. Some were current and former SM&W clients; others had never worked with our firm.
Our summer newsletter is focused on higher education. We are proud of our experience in this space, from performing arts centers to film schools, research labs to medical simulation environments, and many others. Across a wide spectrum of educational facilities, we see greater demand than ever before placed on technology infrastructure. This is created in part by new learning methods which are driven by technology. It is also caused by the ever-increasing capabilities of consumer electronics, which in turn leads to greater expectations from students, faculty, and staff. Our challenge is to design a technology infrastructure which protects the institution from obsolescence over the life of its facility. Volatile changes in mass-produced electronics such as displays and cameras cannot be allowed to invalidate the decisions of architectural space-planning. For example, the massive increase in mobile device usage and resulting demand for wireless networking has great influence over telecom room sizing, data center outfitting, and cable pathways. It is fascinating to consider that the devices in our pockets can have such impact on the brick-and-mortar design of a facility.
These unique circumstances demand unconventional solutions. When called upon to interpret the users' needs, we enjoy bringing our broad project experience to the table. We continue to be surprised by the myriad ways in which experience gained on one project can feed into another, despite each being wildly different. We’re seeing this now during the programming of an open-plan educational space for Teachers College, where we have discovered that our work in museum and concert hall technology design applies directly to our work in educational technology.
Also published in College Planning & Management Magazine
Dynamic collaboration techniques and technologies are advancing in use within the education environments of today. The technologies supporting these environments are evolving very quickly as the refinement of the curricula needing these solutions have begun to take shape. Many institutions fear their faculty and environments may not be prepared for the needs of these concepts or the desires of the students within those environments. The key to this success revolves around the consumer centric approach that the student and faculty are customers of the technology and the user experience is the most important factor.
Also published on AVNetwork.com
The LED pixel pitches were tighter, the displays were bigger, and 4K seemed to be the phrase of the day. When turning away from the usual technological evolutions you can’t help but notice that the Internet of Things (IoT) has entered its toddler years. This year showed great promise for the future of IP integration and smart technology, while further blurring the lines of AV/IT. Show goers flocked to the booths to see many new innovations toward fully immersive and connected environments and a refreshing theme of offering solutions.
Sound masking is an effective tool for enhancing speech privacy and reducing distraction, but how does it do it? Let's first discuss noise cancellation. Noise cancellation is technically when a sound pressure wave, which has peaks and valleys in pressure, is cancelled out by an out-of-phase (or opposite) sound pressure wave. As this suggests it’s a very precise and controlled operation to cancel a sound pressure wave. It requires a very controlled environment and specific sampling and reproduction of the sound source (reproduction of distinct out-of-phase noise canceling sound waves). Noise cancellation works within the controlled environment of headphones, within car/truck cabs, and for large exhaust stacks; very defined environments. Office areas are not controlled and defined environments.
One of the best pieces of Infocomm show advice I ever received was “Spend your time exploring the small booths around the perimeter of the floor, that’s where the best problem solvers are”. That bit was from my colleague Steve Emspak some years ago when I attended my first Infocomm, and he was (and still is) spot on. That is typically where I have found the innovators that have the ingenuity to think of something no one else has yet. So for starters, that strategy is something I echo to our junior staff as well as anyone experiencing Infocomm for the first time.
Wireless Video & Collaboration Solutions – Over the years a lot of solutions have surfaced. Some of them are good, but most have some limitation that makes them mediocre at best. You can only use certain devices, only share certain files types, no ability to annotate, etc. Have any of them been refined? Will anyone be showing off a solution that delivers a seamless experience that is truly device agnostic? The integration of unified communication platforms into any of these solutions is something we can also expect to see.
When I attended my first rock concert in the eighties, the fabric backdrop was lit by traditional parabolic aluminized reflected light (PARcan) fixtures. There were hundreds of cans hanging above the stage—one color per lamp. In Times Square, neon and incandescent bulbs lit the signage. Ten years later, front and rear projection was the favored backdrop lighting scheme. Today, many of the facades are almost entirely wrapped in tiled LED wall technology. As I’m writing this, a new LED wall in front of the Marriott Times Square is coming online. With 23,793,664 individual pixels, it will be the largest high-definition display in the world. Before long, LED wall solutions will be cheaper, more resilient and capable of higher image quality, and we will see their utilization in more areas of commercial buildings. LED walls are on the rise and will continue to evolve into the preferred standard for many indoor and outdoor applications.
Shen Milson & Wilke is currently working on a new library that will include an exterior LED wall. This is a unique case where the wall isn’t being considered as an alternative element (to be added after construction) but as an integral part of the exterior wall. In this case, a 28-by-16-foot- LED wall will be integrated into the façade with an opening built to allow the LED tiles to be flush with the wall. The library is also considering wrapping an entire lobby wall with tiles. For clients that want their new building to feel cutting edge or to evoke a sense of technological innovation, architecturally integrated LEDs are supporting that vision.
The early promises of Building Information Modeling (BIM) are closer than ever to becoming fully realized in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (A/E/C) industry. No longer just a buzzword, BIM can now be seen inside construction trailers and facility management offices. Healthcare users are just beginning to see its benefits. Shen Milsom & Wilke is at the forefront when it comes to utilizing this technology for Medical Equipment Planning.
Healthcare facilities contain a multitude of moving parts and interconnected departments that require careful planning and coordination. They can present some of the most challenging spaces to design and construct, making it more important than ever to collaborate and share knowledge efficiently. With BIM technology, we can minimize the amount of requests for information (RFI’s) that often cause rework and delays. This represents a potentially huge cost savings for both SM&W and our clients.
Architectural acoustic design is an integration of science and art. Understanding some of the basic scientific principles can help to achieve acoustical goals while meeting the artistic vision. Below are some of the most common misconceptions encountered in acoustical design:
1. Architectural Acoustical Consulting is installation of loudspeaker systems. Although there are many aspects of acoustics related to audio system design, Architectural Acoustics usually refers to design aspects that can be generally placed into three categories a) sound isolation construction (construction of partitions, doors windows, etc.); b) room acoustics (interior room shaping and treatments such as absorptive, diffusive and reflective materials,) and c) building system noise and vibration control (HVAC, Electrical, Elevator noise, etc.)
As doctors and healthcare institutions across the country seek ways to make the patient experience better and to improve clinical outcomes, we are seeing the following technology trends take hold:
- Healthcare Information Systems
- Digital tools and applications
- Information Transparency
- Bundled Pricing packages
Jay Ticer, Director of Medical Equipment Planning for Shen Milsom & Wilke’s New York Office has recently been promoted to Associate Principal. In this spotlight blog, Jay talks about his professional background, the necessity and benefits of working with a Medical Equipment planner, and how SM&W is different from other medical equipment planning practices.
The Kenneth & Jeanine Dobbins River Campus Center is the newest addition to Southeastern Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO. This facility functions with dual purposes: that of a residence hall for both new and returning students as well as a visual and performing arts learning center associated with the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts. This joining of academic learning space and living space in one building for students is not a wholly new idea on college and university campuses these days. The learning spaces consist of dance, music, and theatre classrooms each having unique acoustical requirements to internally function well for both students and instructor. All the spaces are located on the first floor of the building and within close proximity to each other as well as to 2 stories of residence hall dormitories directly above. These building features created a number of very specific acoustical design challenges.
Ms. Hougland is a Principal in SM&W’s Denver office and has over 30 years of expertise in acoustical consulting. In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Dana to get her thoughts on being a women in the acoustical design profession.
Interview conducted by Meredith Lovejoy and Adria DeWitt.
Whose job is it to do business development in a professional services firm: (a) it’s everyone’s job, (b) it’s everyone’s job or (c) it’s everyone’s job? If you answered any of those answers, you would be right. In the past, professional services firms for the architecture, engineering and construction industry relied solely on word of mouth. In fact, I recently learned that in the first publication of the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Principles and Practice, the AIA barred architects from marketing themselves. Architects were successful because a great project and a solid reputation brought new work in the door.
Partnership: One entity that is united or associated with another in an activity or a sphere of common interest, especially: In information technology, a partnership can indicate a relationship that extends beyond monetary considerations. A relationship of mutual respect toward a common goal between two or more people. A stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association.
Although there are many forms of partnership, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics should always be present. Such characteristics include empathy, honesty, mutual understanding, respect, compassion and trust.
Written by David Copeland & Randy Tritz
With a theme of “Great (Un-funded) Expectations: Integration, Innovation and Collaboration for Quality, Sustainable Higher Education”, the SCUP 2014 North Central Regional Conference did not disappoint. In addition to several tours of nearby college and university campuses, nearly 150 attendees from across Canada and the US were treated to numerous presentations discussing collaboration strategies amongst various stakeholders. Topics included partnerships between higher education institutions and their host cities and local communities and cooperation and coordination amongst departments within institutions. Attendees included colleges and universities, architectural design firms, consultants, and engineering firms.
Submitted by Deirdre Woods
The mission of colleges and universities is the creation and dissemination of knowledge through research and instruction. Technological innovations have long played a role in supporting this mission and, as I’ve recently had the opportunity to attend two higher education conferences in the past month, these events have confirmed my belief that higher education is in the midst of rapid change.
Cloud services, mobile devices, social media and big data are partially fueling these changes. Changing student expectations and faculty requirements are also having an impact. Over 70% of college students are now considered nontraditional students – including adult learners, part time students, and two-year degree program recipients. High school students arrive on campuses with significant educational technology experience and expectations. Experimentation with teaching methods such as flipped and active classrooms, (where students view lectures outside class and then complete exercises and group projects during class time), blended and online courses, and MOOC’s (Massively Open Online Courses) has created new instructional models for both faculty and students.
On Saturday, October 11th, SM&W staff members Jonathan Owens, Travis Ludwig and myself supported the closing Arena Show for the Blackhawk Area Council Aircamp 2014 event. The SM&W team took over an empty warehouse building on the Chicago Rockford International Airport field and assembled the stage, lighting, video and sound. The Arena Show featured three Tuskegee Airmen, a video greeting from Astronaut James Lovell of Apollo 13 and the closing video made up of images shot during the day’s activities.
Special thanks go out to Christie Digital, QSC Audio, and Audio Biz for the loan of equipment to make this all happen!
After almost 50 years after its completion, the Gateway Arch is one of the most visited attractions in the world, symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States. The CityArchRiver 2015 project will provide locals and tourists with new opportunities to learn, linger and enjoy one of the world’s most recognized icons. Many stages of the project will be completed by October 2015, when the nation and the region celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch.
On Sunday September 28th, Shen Milsom & Wilke participated in the Four Seasons Parkway Run/Walk benefiting pediatric cancer research and survivor programs at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). What a great day it was! This year's event had nearly 11,000 participants and raised over $1.2 million!
Team “SM&W for Julia’s Grace” was set up in memory of Julia Grace Eveland, who lost her battle to Wilm’s Tumor in September, 2013. 8 year old Julia was a patient at CHOP for 4 years and inspired others with her positive attitude, happy spirit and genuine love for everyone she met. From donating all of her birthday gifts to the oncology clinic, to asking that a school fundraiser for her be directed to help doctors find a cure for childhood cancer; Julia always put others first. Her greatest desire was to help other children, and we wanted to continue her legacy by helping fund pediatric cancer research.
On Friday, September 19th, Omar J. Gonzalez, clambered over the perimeter fencing to what some believe is the most secure home in America. While Mr. Gonzalez’s intentions are unknown at this time, prosecutors allege that over 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete were found in his nearby vehicle. He did make it to the White House interior with a folding, serrated blade knife in his possession. This is a scary and sobering thought.
Using this situation simply as an example, protecting your assets is not merely made up of the physical barriers that we may have in place or the devices that we utilize. It’s much more, including having the correct policies & procedures in place, and have people trained to correctly respond to them. The one thing to remember in this situation, or any situation where physical security comes into play, is that your surveillance, intrusion, access control and other physical security systems are only as effective as the people operating them. You can have a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art physical security system or PSIM, but at the end of the day the most important asset to your protection is the person(s) sitting at the security command center.
While the accused made it as far as the North Portico, he was apprehended without incident. This is due to the policies & procedures that are in place to respond to such an event. While we use security systems as deterrents and investigative tools, we also use them for reactive measures; much like cause and effect. I think to think of this approach like Sir Isaac Newton looked at the laws of motion; that each action should have an equal and opposite reaction. For every event there should be a reaction appropriate to that event, and all of these situations should be documented and used as training for your security teams.
With all the buzz today concerning Wireless and Collaboration, the feeling by most users is that “it’s just ubiquitous”. Right? Well…..not necessarily. The whole discussion is akin to a duck floating on the water. Above the water the duck looks all calm, just floating along. However, below the surface, his feet are paddling to beat the band. This is how wireless collaboration appears to users, if systems are designed properly. In reality, there is a lot of work going on, which the user should not see, thus making their experience appear as a simple case of walking into a room and wirelessly collaborating. With this said, not all ‘ducks’ are the same! There are product manufacturers and software companies that have approached this topic in various unique methods. SM&W has developed a space for our clients to test drive the equipment without any pressure from either manufacturers or sales people.
The challenge is not the plethora of wireless collaboration solutions on the market. Some solutions use proprietary hardware, while others use a cloud based software solution. The issue is that each product or service has approached the discussion of collaboration differently. Some products/services are designed to work outside of the secured network (thus not impacting the secured network), while others are happy to work behind the firewall, inside the secured network. Still others offer the ability to transverse this discussion. Each has its attributes and their shortcomings. Add to this the complexity of how each product/service addresses the user interface, accessing and selecting user devices for display and/or collaboration.
Not all user computing products operating systems are the same either. Android, Apple IOS, Google, Windows, Lynix, etc., all have differing architecture that may or may not play well with the wireless collaboration system chosen. Some will openly annotate and view collaborative information, while others will only view and not offer the ability to collaborate. Some will save the outcome of a collaborative effort on each device, while others store the final product of a meeting in a central file location that will need access by each meeting participant.
Earlier this month, SM&W consultants Jonathan Owens, CTS and M. Travis Ludwig, CTS conducted a microphone analysis session at the Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg, IL (ILIS). The primary impetus for the exercise was for Travis and Jonathan to gain a better operational understanding of specific microphone types as tools for audio production. Rather than continue to rely on printed engineering data sheets for product specification and use in projects, the goal was to evaluate individual microphones in a controlled environment where the results could be recorded and used for further evaluation. As an Alumna of ILIS, Jonathan utilized his connections at the school to hold the session in their recording studio. This allowed them the controlled environment needed for testing, and provided students an opportunity to assist. The session took place during a Critical Listening class, and was a great way to combine a professional analysis session into a learning experience for the students. The session lasted 6hrs and involved rigorous testing and analysis of microphones from various manufacturers. The ILIS faculty were thrilled to have such a session take place because it gave the students a chance to work with acoustical professionals and gain some insight into the industry.
Travis and Jonathan taught the students about the various microphones and why their characteristics are important in numerous applications such as voice and instrument sound reinforcement, and recording/broadcast.
Peering into that dark, abandoned movie theater prior to construction, I had no idea the challenges we would face with Everyman Theatre. One of the most interesting aspects of this project is its history. The building started out its life as a Vaudeville house in 1910 and has had many incarnations throughout its lifetime, including a house of burlesque, a parking garage, and a 1,550-seat movie theater. Working with Cho Benn Holback + Associates, our team’s goal was to transform the abandoned movie theater into a multi-venue performance space and a home for the Everyman Theatre Company.
Our first challenge was to take this historic facility and turn it into something that fit the needs of the company. The historic structure could not support the usual bells and whistles associated with a theatre design: isolated ceilings, upgraded structural slabs, and isolated floor slabs. Any upgrades to the structure had to be carefully considered, because the historic framework could only support so much additional weight. Add a metro tunnel directly below the theatre, and we had to contend with serious weight restrictions. As a design team, it was important to pick and choose where various forms of isolation would be most effective while maintaining an eye for budget and constructability.
Shen Milsom & Wilke played their 4th softball game of the season on July 7th, and what a game it was! We played against a tough defense, but managed to keep up with one exceptional defensive play after another to hold the score close.
InfoComm 2014 was representative of some of the more drastic shifts on the horizon for the AV & Technology industries as a whole. There was much to see on the showroom floor with an impressive abundance of LED displays and I'll always make time to enjoy a quality demo in the audio rooms. However, what was brewing beneath all the impressive audio and video displays was the surge in networked solutions in all forms of technology. After spending my time on the show floor, there was a constant echo of advice given by Steve Emspak, "search out what you don't know," which helped in analyzing a few trends:
Data Reporting and Analysis:
I’ve been involved in the audiovisual industry for more than 20 years, and viewing a poor image in a presentation space outfitted with an expensive video display is a personal pet peeve. The video equipment may include an excellent projector, quality video signal transport/switching and top-of-the-line source equipment; yet it’s still difficult to see details in the image, and the color looks washed out. How does this happen? Better yet, how do we improve it?
Many design aspects for a video viewing space impact the effectiveness of the displayed images. The audiovisual system designer is responsible for some of the basics, such as screen size and image height, display type, resolution and projector brightness, but the display environment can have a significant impact on how images are perceived by viewers.
As security consultants, we see and advise clients on various security technology systems ranging from minimal to exponential in cost, operability, and capability. As an independent consulting firm we are product agnostic, but as with most successful consulting professionals, we get knee deep in the details, performance, and specifications of the products we recommend. Most of us are technology junkies at heart. As for me, my pulse races over the latest and greatest security devices being introduced at trade shows and exhibitions. I love to take in all the innovation and knowledge available in the security world. My job is to understand it, tailor it, package it, and advise my client as to what the most appropriate solution is for his/her facility.
As security experts, our clients expect our guidance in selecting the right security technologies to suit both their interests and their budget. We analyze drawings and markups, and we coordinate integration between various systems in order to give our clients a best-in-class physical security system. However, this can all be circumvented or dismantled by one person- often your employee!
Security systems, regardless of their size, are only as good as the people operating and/or responding to them. Your weakest link is the employee that doesn’t know how to respond, doesn’t know what he/she is looking at, how to disseminate information, or doesn’t take the appropriate action or follow operational procedures. This leads to asset loss or vulnerability. In 2014 alone, agencies, companies, and municipalities will spend millions of dollars on security systems; but how much will they spend developing the policies and procedures that are utilized in conjunction with these physical security systems? People become too focused on day 1: the physical security designs and layouts. My challenge to you is: what are you going to do on day 2 when the security integrator is gone and you have hundreds of thousands of dollars of technology at your fingertips? My advice: take the time to develop policies and procedures that support your organization’s culture while effectively managing security staff, developing operational procedures, and creating emergency operations plans. The challenge is to do all of this before day 2 arrives.
AV systems are part of the paradigm shift in the workplace. In today’s workplace environment, large specialty spaces remain, with the addition of huddle spaces and smaller collaborative areas. As software-based conferencing spreads into more of these spaces, AV designers need to look for unobtrusive, cost-effective ways of picking up audio. Because differences in space configuration make it a challenge to compare various technologies, SM&W organized a quick microphone shoot-out between three technologies: a wireless boundary microphone, a ceiling microphone, and a passive mic array. These are all simple solutions which can be easily implemented with connection-free portable furniture. Once we acquired the demo gear, the challenge was how to test it.
In the fall of 2010, the University of Minnesota opened its doors to the new Science Teaching & Student Services Building located on its Minneapolis campus. The new $72.5 million, 115,000 square-foot facility is home to 10 active learning classrooms (ALCs), 5 multipurpose classrooms and 2 large lecture halls, as well as offices dedicated to University-wide student services such as academic counseling, career counseling, registration and bursar services. SM&W provided Audiovisual, Telecommunications, Security and Acoustical consulting services for the project.
With the increase of technology usage in the security industry, it is far too easy to rely on the latest system or gadget to protect one’s assets. Technology gives us something to hold up and display to show what we've bought and installed as part of the overall security program. Since it is generally the most visible portion of the security program, it is the first thing that is examined when incidents occur. These systems are incredibly important and allow security personnel to monitor, control, and surveil many areas and disparate locations from a central point. This allows for a more efficient use of manpower and provides an overall costs saving from a staffing perspective.
However, just as important is the use of non-technology. The successful creation of a safe and secure learning environment depends on the integration of “active” and “passive” design strategies. The active approach uses hardware and security systems such as cameras or motion detectors. Passive security is based on program and facility design, building and site configuration, and community participation. In educational environments, it is critical that these environments be open, inviting, and conducive to classroom settings so as not to take away from the students’ abilities to learn and their overall comfort level with the surroundings. With that, the less pervasive technology and hardware that can be used, the better it is for their environment. Much of these concepts are based on the principles of Crime Prevention though Environmental Design (CPTED).
This post is a result of an ongoing conversation we are having at SM&W about what "accessibility" means in AV design and how to make functional digital signage welcoming and usable to all users. Earlier in the year I discussed giving better experience to a hearing impaired audience using Audio Frequency Inductive Loop Systems. (SM&W has an approved AIA continuing education class available on this topic). The genesis of today's post is a discussion I had with senior consultant Joe Gaffney regarding accessible design in interactive kiosks.
As the cost of interactive flat panel displays drop, we are seeing greater and greater numbers of interactive digital kiosks. As AV designers, we see these digital kiosks in place of more traditional signage for myriad uses including advertising, scheduling and path finding within buildings, and for scheduling in public transit. At SM&W we have been discussing how digital kiosks impact people with physical limitations, and how we can create the most welcoming experience possible for the broadest possible audience.
By Bill Nattress of Shen Milsom & Wilke and Sean Brown of Sonic Foundry
You may think you've got your AV plan nailed down for your boardrooms, meeting rooms and training room, but think again. By now you've heard of BYOD (bring you own device). The idea is that giving employees access to work at their fingertips will make them more productive. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to rethink your strategies to accommodate the anytime, anywhere access the new consumer-based, technology-enhanced work environment demands.
The Pearl River Tower, in Guangzhou, China, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill serves as headquarters for the Guangdong Tobacco Company along with other corporate tenants, is a 70-story building that includes office space, conference center, retail and restaurant spaces encompassing approximately 170,000 square meters. SM&W consulted on the base building security, IT infrastructure, audiovisual systems, and acoustical design for this office tower that also has ‘ultra green’ and ‘net-zero’ energy consumption design features. The interior fit-out design of the anchor tenant’s typical offices and conference center was also undertaken by our acoustical and audiovisual design teams from our Chicago office.
The tower project was featured in Architectural Record for putting “super green before super tall”.
Clients, owners and users are demanding better automation between network systems, storage and infrastructure in a way that is shifting IT design resources from low-value cable plant design that has permeated the technology design world for years. Today, IT design must be looked upon as a high-value innovation that addresses relentless escalation of business and user demands from live streaming video and audio to the desktop to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Network design has legitimately become the 5th base line discipline in building design. Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and now Technology (IT & AV), round out the key team members responsible for any modern building design.
It’s not just voice and data any longer! Today, IT Infrastructure design absolutely must consider a converged design that includes AV, Security, Building Management Systems (BMS), Building Automation Systems (BAS), Fire-Life-Safety (FLS), Point of Sale (POS), Parking, Asset Tracking, Lighting Control, Window Treatment Control, HVAC control, etc., etc.
The typical checklist we mentally review as we leave our homes—Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Phone? Check—is expected to get much shorter. As the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach becomes increasingly commonplace in businesses, near field communications (NFC) enabled smartphones that facilitate mobile access control are ushering in a new era for managing trusted identities in the enterprise environment. Empowering physical access control and computer logon from a smartphone is a convenient, secure and attractive capability.
The mobile access control pilot at Arizona State University (ASU) was the first to validate the use of digital credentials on NFC smartphones for physical access control on a college campus. The ASU pilot participants gained access to their residence hall and selected rooms by presenting the phones to their door readers, just like they do with their existing iCLASS-based physical campus ID cards. Participants used a variety of popular smartphones connected to all major mobile networks campus wide.
Minton’s and The Cecil bring old school jazz and exotic comfort food to the increasingly robust Harlem neighborhood. Originally the site of legendary jazz club Minton’s Playhouse in the 1930’s/1940’s, the space has been redesigned as a contemporary jazz supper club. The adjacent spaces were revived by New York businessman Richard Parsons and restaurateur Alexander Smalls along with Harlem Jazz Enterprises. Shen Milsom & Wilke was asked to provide acoustics for the renovation while preserving the historic feel of the space.
The value of working with an integrated medical equipment planning consultant for HealthCare Projects
Regardless of the size of your facility, equipment costs can range between 25%-30% of the overall project budget. For a project where the project costs run in the hundreds and thousands to millions of dollars, 30% is a significant amount of dollars allocated to equipment. A medical planning expert can allay any anxiety about the type, size, cost, fit, and capabilities of your equipment purchase.
In the wake of the numerous school shooting incidents the topic of school security is one that has garnered national attention. When parents send their children to school; or husbands, wives, and partners say goodbye to their significant others, they do so with the unconscious assumption that they will see their loved ones later in the day. Sadly, that is not always the case. The unimaginable tragedy that took place in Newtown, CT shook the nation to its core and came as an affirmation that our children need more protection. As we can see on the nightly news regardless of where you hang your hat, active shooter scenarios and school shootings have become more and more prevalent and are clearly on the rise.
In the year following the deadly December 2012 Newtown, CT shooting, there were at least two dozen school shootings across our nation; not all making national news platforms .
Looking back at any situation, many people will say “oh, well I could have done this differently” or “I should have just…” As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. I believe that while we should absolutely learn from our experiences and be reactive, I think that it is essential that we are more proactive in our approach to school security. In the physical security realm there are things that we can do in an attempt to mitigate these heinous crimes against our children and our loved ones. Preparedness and Prevention are ways that school systems can “prepare for and prevent an Active Shooter Situation” .
Written By: Carolyn Heinze freelance writer for AVnetwork.com
The Society for Design Administration (SDA) is a nonprofit organization that advances management and administrative professionals in the A/E/C industry through education, networking and resources. The SDA has been an affiliate of The American Institute of Architects for over 50 years, and enhances the professional development and personal growth of its members, and consequently the development and growth of their respective companies. Educational areas the SDA focuses on are Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Marketing, Office Administration, and Project Management.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often viewed as a set of tedious requirements one must get past in a big project. Light switches are moved a bit lower, protruding obstacles are recessed into walls, and a few infrared (IR) or radio-frequency (RF) emitters for assistive listening systems are tacked onto the walls of auditoriums and meeting spaces.
However, there is a dramatic difference between creating spaces that accommodate those with disabilities and creating spaces that are welcoming to all visitors. Accommodation – and compliance with accessibility laws - is an important first step in creating an award winning, visually and physically appealing and welcoming space. Shen Milsom & Wilke (SM&W) has developed strategies to achieve these results.
There’s always something new in data center technology, but which are proven, which should be considered, and which have been over-hyped? A good list of modern trends would certainly include:
Containerized Data Centers: These certainly have their place, and have proven to be problem solvers for some, but they are probably being over-hyped. They work fine for a Google or Facebook that deploys large numbers of similar or identical servers. They can be delivered quickly, they scale incrementally, and can be very energy efficient. Many aren’t even meant to be serviced; just close the doors and let them run. If servers fail shut them down. There are plenty of others to take their place. “Containers” have their place, but for the data center that needs to remain agile they can be very limiting.
Happy New Year Everyone!
For those who don't know me, I'm the Pixel-and-Ink-Stained Wretch, keeper of the very best flash fiction/commercial AV blog anywhere on the internet (also, to the best of my knowledge, the only hybrid fiction/AV blog on the internet. If anyone knows of another one, let me know so we can have a steel cage match or something). With the New Year here, this seems like a fun time to look at some emerging trends and what the future might bring. In keeping with my love for speculative fiction, I'll invoke the three types of science fiction story deserved by the late Dr. Isaac Asimov: answers to the questions "What if..." "If only..." and "if this goes on”. To keep the number of predictions manageable, let's treat this like one of the good doctor's science fiction premises and apply one of each to the future of AV.
Profoundly influenced by his grandfather, a WWII Navy electronics technician-turned recording engineer, Rob became fascinated by the merging of technology and music as a child. By age sixteen, Rob was the Chief Engineer of his high school radio and TV station. Combining self-taught electronics knowledge with input from mentors, he applied his technology skills to practical applications such as repurposing municipal phone lines to replace a failed studio transmitter link in order to keep a local sportscast on the air.
At Lehigh University Rob remained closely involved with production engineering, building concert sound and broadcast systems for artists such as Diana Krall, Gregory Hines, and the New York Philharmonic. He founded the Lehigh University Sound program, an organization designed to provide leadership experience to students interested in working in audio engineering. During his junior year, Rob was hired to work in the engineering department at Vistacom, a local Audio/Video firm. He eventually served as Vistacom’s lead AV designer for Lehigh’s Zoellner Arts Center, the University’s first dedicated performing arts facility. His responsibilities included the design of dedicated recording studios, leading to new curricula for students interested in music and broadcast technology.
Shen Milsom & Wilke was a proud sponsor at SHARE's 5th Anniversary Pink & Teal Reception on June 20th, 2013. SHARE organization works to support, educate and empower those affected by breast or ovarian cancer.
Georgine Ilesco and I were honored to attend this year's event and had a great time mingling with others in the design, construction and real estate industries.
In celebration of the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup, SM&W principal Bill Nattress shows his team spirit by wearing a bit of his favorite Hawks garb. Also, the cup route went by the office with much fanfare.
Shen Milsom & Wilke's Denver office shut down early on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 to celebrate a 70% increase in profitability over the last six months! The office was treated to lunch and a ballgame where we watched the Colorado Rockies take on the LA Dodgers at Coors Field.
We all stopped in front of Home Plate to snap a picture with our new SM&W t-shirts.
During the spring and summer months when I’m not busy handling proposals, I spend much of my time watching tennis. I’ve had a love for the game as long as I can remember. That love also drove me to become a member of the Board of Directors for USTA Serves. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the French open in Paris and of course, my trip would not have been complete without visiting a few of my favorite projects overseas.
One of my favorite things about attending the French Open is the beautiful red clay courts at the Roland Garros Stadium. The French call the surface “terre battue” (beaten earth). It is a surface that your feet slide on and that quickly stains your shoes and socks. Unlike hard surface courts, the clay court is easier on the players’ feet and joints. Its grittiness also slows the ball down, extending rallies, games, and sets. Still, the clay and the artistry it elicits is a point of pride in France.
My visit in Paris also provided the perfect opportunity to drop in on one of our favorite hospitality client’s properties, the Mandarin Oriental Paris. The hotel is situated on one of the most fashionable streets in the world, Rue Saint-Honoré. Rooms here range anywhere from 1k to over 8k per night. While I didn’t have the fortune to experience the hotel as a guest, I was able to tour the grounds and the rooms. The hotel is exquisitely designed sparing no attention to details. It has a very delicate, almost feminine theme.
What’s new in the Denver office you ask? Renovation!
Well, “new” is a relative term. This has been discussed off and on for the year and a half that I’ve been here, and the “old timers” (sorry Kelly!) tell me it’s been planned since before we even had desks in this building.