Metinteractive recently provided AV systems and networking for the expansive new Prior Performing Arts Center at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.
Metinteractive coordinated closely with Rhode Island-based Dimeo Construction Company, which served as construction manager, throughout the project. The new build encompassed a 400-seat proscenium-style concert hall and theater, the college’s principal venue for music, musical theater, and dance; a studio theater space; the Cantor Art Gallery; a multimedia lab; large rehearsal space; the central, flexible Beehive and café; a small rehearsal and recording room; and video editing suites.
The College of the Holy Cross is the oldest Catholic college in New England and one of the oldest in the United States. Destined to be a campus focal point in the years to come, the ambitious and comprehensive 84,000 GSF Prior Performing Arts Center features dedicated spaces for the fine and performing arts as well as spaces and technology to support creative interactions between the arts and other disciplines. The project was designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which designed The Lincoln Center campus transformation and The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, projects on which Metinteractive previously worked.
“The Prior Center is architecturally interesting with its big plus-sign shape,” noted Metinteractive engineer Rich Gold who worked with project manager Don Ellis and technical project manager Kyle Passaro on the project. “The Beehive is at the center, a three-story atrium space with four wings branching from: the proscenium theater; the scenic shop, dressing rooms and small rehearsal room; the studio theater with large rehearsal hall; and the multimedia lab and art gallery.
“One of the key drivers in our building-wide AV system was that audio and video could be sent from any space to any space. So, for example, a performance in the proscenium theater could overflow into another space and the dressing rooms could hear and see activities in the Center,” Gold explained.
“We created a network infrastructure across the building so audio, video, and control data flow back and forth everywhere. It’s very challenging to move large amounts of this kind of data and to interconnect to the campus network, as well. Networks for AV systems don’t work the same as corporate IT networks do–they’re quite unique and critical to operations and use very specialized switches.”
“Holy Cross decided that we should provide the network for our system since Metinteractive has a reputation for being extremely advanced in network layouts,” said CEO Jeff Mele. He joined Gold, Passaro, service manager Johann Himber and service engineer Nick Alberto in building the network, which has NETGEAR M4300 switches at its core. The audio network is Dante with system touch-panel control by QSC Q-SYS.
‘The Prior Center is a very custom building, and the more custom the building the more specialized the solutions,” Passaro pointed out. “The space is highly networked with a huge amount of fiber optic cable connecting everything. Much of the networking couldn’t begin until the other building trades were finished with their work, so it’s always crunch time at that stage.”
The proscenium theater features d&b audiotechnik line arrays, front fills and box fills and an Allen & Heath DLIVE S7000 digital audio console. “Everything goes into Dante to move the audio around with portable stage box interfaces for extra inputs,” said Gold. “The theater is wired with panels to patch in audio inputs as needed, and there are patch bays in the equipment racks for maximum flexibility.”
The studio theater is outfitted with QSC speakers, with connections at the stage level and catwalks, and an Allen & Heath DLIVE S3000 digital audio console. The Center’s recording studio has an Avid ProTools system and Avid S4 mixing console.
A flexible paging system was installed throughout the building; it has a custom Metinteractive paging station with mic and illuminated buttons for different zones. The paging system may serve as a prototype that Metinteractive will develop further.
Marshall Electronics cameras mounted in the proscenium theater, studio theater, and small rehearsal space can be routed to displays, such as digital signage in the Beehive, around the building and can stream onto the campus network. Most displays are 55, 65, and 86-inch Samsung 4K LED monitors and include three digital signage displays in the Beehive. Panasonic projectors in the proscenium theater work in tandem with a 16x10-foot Da-Lite screen and in the multimedia lab with a large, motorized Da-Lite Wireline Advantage screen.
The company enjoyed “a great relationship” with Dimeo Construction during the project, said Passaro. “They have a deep understanding of what we do with AV and the challenges we face and were very responsive and accommodating to our needs.”
“It was our first time working with Metinteractive and a very enjoyable experience," said Craig Bolton, senior project manager at Dimeo. "They brought great skills and an extensive knowledge of the technology to the job and absolutely no hassles."