University of North Carolina Wilmington: This past winter, the University of North Carolina Wilmington performed massive renovations of the Upperman African American Cultural Center, giving it expanded space and new AV solutions to better serve the African American student population on campus. The AV design was led in house by UNCW’s Integrated Educational Technologies team. The team’s vision for the space was a multi-functional system that could facilitate student collaboration and learning, virtual conferencing, and social gatherings.
The design presented some unique challenges beyond the normal educational space. Before the expansion, Upperman had a single large-screen display in their main space with an HDMI connection and USB port, and this upfit represented a significant leap forward in available technology in the space. The designer, Richard Blaylock, wanted to make sure the space would have technology it would use, so there were several meetings with Sean Palmer, the center’s director, to inform on recommendations. The system needed to have discrete controls in each of four spaces, while still being one unified system that could be controlled from a central touch panel.
With the system needs in place, UNCW settled on using a traditional point-to-point video matrix and central DSP. An AV-over-IP system was considered, but for the scope of the project, the fixed-architecture matrix switch better matched the need.
The space now has four zones, each with a flat panel display and ceiling speakers. These spaces are a video-conferencing room, an art gallery, a library, and “the living room,” which is for events and general student use. When not being actively used, the displays show digital signage, but, using local control points, can be swapped over to wireless collaboration units, wall input plates, or a micro-PC connected to the conferencing system. From the conference room touch panel, any input can be routed to any of the output zones using a simple-selection GUI with robust feedback.
A final function that has been planned for a future installation is a media conversion and playback system. Upperman owns an extensive library of rare media, such as out-of-print records, speeches, news and television broadcasts, and other cultural and historic media. To preserve this, a recording and playback system was designed that would allow Upperman staff to digitize the media, and then for students to use a touch panel interface that would recall and play the media on a designated display in the space.
THE AV/IT TEAM
The AV design was led in house by UNCW’s Integrated Educational Technologies team.
DATE COMPLETED: December 20, 2021
- Extron Crosspoint matrix switcher
- Extron speakers and amplifiers
- OneLAN digital signage solution
- Mersive Solstice collaboration hubs
- Biamp Tesira AVB DSP
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