At the grand opening of their 338,000-square foot, $166 million Athletes Village, the University of Minnesota has ushered in a new chapter in the history of their Athletics program. Consisting of three new buildings, the University wanted to create a memorable experience for their recruits, fans and their 700 student-athletes. Looking for a dynamic visual environment, which included the creation of their Letterwinner tribute, the University called upon the experiential design specialists at Advent who installed an immersive LED video display using 3.9mm FLEXLite NXG from PixelFLEX.
“The overall vision was to create a unique digital experience inside the new University of Minnesota Athletes Village with slightly different approaches in a few key locations,” said John Downie, VP of Experience, Advent. “For the Football Hall of Fame area, we used the LED video in a very targeted way to create a custom and highly impactful display using the FLEXLite NXG technology which recognizes all Letterwinner student athletes in the football program.”
With fully front-serviceable video panels, plus seamless right-angle corner capabilities, FLEXLite NXG is available in 2.6-6.25mm pitch options, plus a 6.25mm full outdoor IP65 version as well. The FLEXLite NXG 500mm x 500mm video tiles are calibrated directly out of the box to ensure perfect color and brightness to help realize the full potential of any LED video design.
“We wanted to immerse the visitors in the story by creating it in an unexpected way that honored these individuals and fit into the modern look and feel of the space,” said Downie. “To do this, we decided to create an angled LED wall that would transition the visitors from a passive observer of the story, into something that was much more dynamic as we enveloped them in the LED video experience.”
Having worked with a number of Universities to enhance the energy around their Athletics programs, Advent understands the need to give each design its own unique, visual impact. By incorporating both the brand identity the story behind the program, the Advent team is able to capture those moments through the use of the latest technologies available.
“We really try to inject a sense of action and energy into the environment and we always try to do things in ways that are unexpected,” said Downie. “This was a completely custom-design where we started by understanding exactly what the story should be, and then how we can express that story in a way that is both meaningful and faithful to the University brand. We then have to look at what is viable in terms of technology in order to express that story, and the PixelFLEX technology really helped us realize this idea.”
Ready to begin the installation of the Letterwinner tribute, Downie needed to find a way to create a seamless, digital display which could fly over the heads of the visitors. Using both the die-cast aluminum frame of the FLEXLite NXG, along with a Unistrut framing system, the design was able to come together in a free-flowing visual design.
“To create the angled display, we used Unistrut which was locked onto a plywood backer on both the ceiling and on the wall,” explained Downie. “On the ceiling portion, we used a top row of angled Unistrut brackets and two rows of turnbuckles to lower down the second half of the ceiling-mounted panels. This allowed us to get a perfect joint between the two sections of the LED video wall and it looks great.”
With the installation drawing to a close, the University prepared to begin populating the display with the names of those to be honored. In a program where the number of Letterwinners is expected to continue to grow, the University also implemented the custom Content Management System created by Advent.
“For control of these types of digital environments, we offer a very advanced digital signage scheduling package that gives the client a single point of content management, with technical support and maintenance monitoring,” added Downie. “Through our system, they have complete control over the content they wish to display, and it allows them to simply update any athlete names needed as they add more content.”
Now complete, the University of Minnesota unveiled their new Athletes Village, ready to heighten the experience behind being both a Golden Gopher student-athlete and fan. In a world where the dependence and expectations of digital elements are increasing, Downie is conscious to also remain focused on the University’s return on experience, to guide the continued success of the design.
“In a space that is public-facing, digital video gives the design a ‘wow’ factor, and when implemented well, should be able to provide meaningful statistics on the success of the displays through their interactive digital points,” said Downie. “The power to real-time measure the experience and implementation of the digital elements allows us to monitor the usage so that we can more effectively control the conversation around what is the return on experience. There is great value in being able to better understand how a diverse audience interacts with a space, and digital video gives a University the ability to create a moment that is truly memorable; especially when talking to younger audiences who expect digital touch points.”