AV By Design

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Unique AIA Meeting Space Offers Practical Ideas For Facility Planners

KANSAS CITY, MO—When the American Institute of Architects chapter in Kansas City moved its offices last year, they chose a renovated 1907 structure in the Crossroads District, a former downtown industrial area now home to art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Helix Architecture and Design of Kansas City created striking interiors for the space, and Conference Technologies, Inc. (CTI) contributed an innovative AV system.

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The 2,000-square-foot first-floor meeting room features Extron’s new TLP 700MV TouchLink control system.

The centerpiece of the space is a 2,000-square-foot first-floor meeting room, with windows on two sides looking out on the neighborhood. AIA Kansas City uses the new space for a large number of meetings and events, both for members and others in the design community. The room can comfortably hold 60 people classroom style, 150 theater style, and even more for receptions. The chapter also plans to rent the space to other organizations and companies in the area. “We’re in a really great location in Kansas City, a kind of a hip, happening area of downtown,” Tiffany Shepherd, deputy director of the chapter, explained. “There are a lot of evening events, where galleries open up their doors to the public, and a lot of need for meeting space.”

According to Steve Martin, who was in charge of the project for CTI, one of the main challenges in designing an AV system for this room was its use as a rental space. “Most of the people who do presentations here will use the AV system infrequently or only once, so the controls had to be extremely intuitive.”

That was one of the reasons Martin recommended using Extron’s new touchpanel-based control system— and in fact, this was one of the first rooms in the nation to have the new TLP 700MV TouchLink color panel installed.

“It’s really simple to use,” Martin said. Extron includes a seven-inch touchscreen in the panel plus 10 backlit buttons and even a master volume control knob to put everything at a user’s fingertips. They also set up a simplified programming scheme, making it affordable for customers who might not otherwise be able to budget for a touchpanel.

“I think this is my favorite part of the room,” Shepherd said. “It makes it really easy not only for us to use the AV system but for us to show other people how to use it.”

Another challenge was the sheer variety of meetings that would be held in the new room. Jeffrey Schutzler, the project leader at Helix Architecture, included lightweight, motorized room dividing curtains from MechoShade Systems to reconfigure the room for different types and sizes of meetings. “This is a big space,” noted Shepherd, “but if we’re having a small meeting, we can drop one of these shades to make the meeting feel a little more intimate.” Schutzler put one shade about one-third of the way back from the front of the room, another about two-thirds of the way back, and then used the same material across all of the windows. So a presenter can use the Mecho- Shade fabric to darken the room and to resize it, fitting it not only to the lighting conditions but to the size of the audience.

The sound system CTI designed includes an Extron DMP 64 Digital Matrix Processor—a 6x4 audio matrix switcher with digital signal processor built in—and eight Extron SI 26CT two-way ceiling speakers. The sound system ties into the curtaining system: press a button to lower one of the MechoShade dividers and it automatically activates only those speakers appropriate for the space being used.

“The combination of the Extron DSP and speakers sounds really nice for voice and music,” Martin said, “and it made it very easy for us to control four wireless microphones from the touchpanel.”

A 4,000-lumen NEC NP3250W projector provides bright, high definition images on a 130-inch diagonal Da-Lite Cinema Contour screen. Sources for the system include a builtin PC, three laptop inputs, a DVD/ VCR combo, the Shure SLX wireless microphones, and an iPod dock.

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