The Swiss Army knife never goes out of style, squeezing a lot of versatility into an elegant package. While you may not be able to pick up McIntyre Hall at Skagit Valley Community College and put it in your pocket, this brand new performance facility in Mount Vernon, WA, 60 miles north of Seattle, holds the same kind of appeal.
"As with any neighborhood facility, multi-use rules the day," said Steve Olszewski, VP, sales manager of Dimensional Communications, the systems integrator on the project. "The main idea was to create a space that was flexible enough to handle a wide variety of things-stage production, orchestral performances, presentations -- everything from soup to nuts. It seems to be working, because the space is already booked for 180 days in 2005 -- there was a pent-up need to get it going."
The Skagit Performing Arts Council raised $18 million in private and public funds to build McIntyre Hall on the community college's campus. The result is a 34,950-square-foot building, where the performance space features a classic shoebox design with balcony, plus a full 80-foot fly space that allows scenery and props. An orchestra pit can accommodate 38 musicians, and can be covered to bring the stage out into a thrust scenario. The large, 12,000-square-foot lobby can also host small performances in addition to being wired for videoconferencing and equipped with multiple projector screens for presentations, while variable seating configurations there can hold 400-700 people.
In addition to a typically tight timeline -- a 2-month turnaround that included generating the shop drawings -- the McIntyre Hall install was made interesting by the facility's varied uses. "We had not just a theater sound system with all the primary sound system reinforcement elements," said Olszewski, "including back-office paging, intercom, chiming, recall, assisted listening-all the typical things you'd find -- but also a small conference center as well. That second aspect included the typical AV that you'd see for presentations, videoconferencing and the associated audio to go with that almost as a separate system, but tied together with the main system via a Biamp Audia DSP. Audio routing was done over CobraNet, using standard Ethernet technologies as the physical transport.
"The goal was to make something flexible, but simple enough that the average local sound staff could run it. The console is a straight-ahead Allen & Heath ML3000-32 console. The system was originally designed left-center-right, but for budgetary reasons it was pared down to only center channel, with L and R to come when budget allows. Video was kept very simple: EIKI projectors were chosen because of the DLP technology and their cost-effectiveness in that class of projector."
Without a traditional touchpanel control system to oversee things, the DSP system stepped up to the plate. The performance space that the system commands was designed to look as good as it sounds. "This is a beautiful facility, and fitting the speakers with a custom soffit allowed them to be hidden." Olszewski explained.
"The speakers include Renkus-Heinz PNX151T/6A, PNX212, PNX61s and TRX121/12M's. They deliver. They're very robust, powerful speakers, but they seem to have a delicacy to the high end in the output-their high-frequency drivers just seem to have the ability to get some delicacy and airiness in there. The amps are all QSC CX series, which are very, very good amplifiers: They just work."