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Installation Profile: All the Data that’s Fit to Transmit

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

Bold AV/IT statement at newspaper headquarters.


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electronic-architecture system and flexible acoustic wall

Acoustic consulting firm JaffeHolden installed an electronic-architecture system and flexible acoustic wall treatment to adapt the space electronically for different types of performances.

Redundancy is evident throughout the entire cabling infrastructure. “We ran a second completely separate wiring system that will come into and out of different ends of the data center and the TRs,” Engleheart says. “Even each workstation has a salt-and-pepper two-outlet design. It's very much a high-throughput, risk-avoidance design. They can move an enormous amount of information over this system — the sophisticated design of the 10GB-on-copper cabling is very unique, and every bit of information always has an alternative route.”

Redundancy was key in the infrastructure of the Times building. For instance, every bit of information flowing through the newspaper's newsrooms has an alternate route, according to Brian Engleheart of Constantin Walsh-Lowe, which handled cabling for the building.

The cabling that Constantin Walsh-Lowe installed also accommodates VoIP, which accounts for all the wired telephony in the building. While voice and data share the same backbone, video signals use traditional coaxial cabling. CATV signals come into the carrier room and are sent to the data center and distributed throughout the Times floors with distribution amps every four floors, into each floor's TR, and on to individual workstations. Constantin Walsh-Lowe also designed the traditional AV systems, installing plasma screens in conference rooms — with lighting, projection, and DVD sources controlled by a Crestron touchscreen system that also rides on the IT backbone.

TIMES CENTER

The IT backbone reaches into the new Times building's jewel: the Times Center, a state-of-the-art cultural center and performance space with a 378-seat auditorium and a second function space below it. Each space can be used independently, or the function space can be configured to handle overflow seating from the auditorium. The stage platform is 65ft. wide and 15ft. deep. The first three rows of seats can be removed and filled in with platforms to increase the stage depth to 25ft.

The Times Center was truly a manifold collaboration between Pritziker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, theater planning and design consultant firm Fisher Dachs Associates, acoustical consulting firm JaffeHolden, AV systems integrator Harvey Marshall Berling, and the Times itself.

Russell Cooper, a principal at JaffeHolden, says the planned applications for the space evolved over time prior to construction. What was initially envisioned as a lecture-and-presentation space at some point also evolved to include musical performances.

“[Renzo Piano] designed a box-shaped space using planar wood surfaces,” Cooper says. “We noted that, other than for lectures and multimedia presentations, the sound of the hall — which had very little diffusion — could be quite harsh. For chamber ensemble performances, we suggested alterations that would get the reverb time up a bit, but with very low volume. We researched many options for adjustable acoustics, including significant alteration of the hardwood interior, or the use of transparent screening on the walls hiding a moving absorptive material.”

The group ran through various combinations of conventional solutions for this acoustical challenge, but ultimately, the answer was mainly technological.

“We knew that in order to make the space work equally well for all of the different program needs, we would need an electronic-architecture solution,” Cooper says. “Electronic architecture would provide the full range of variability needed to take the relatively dry natural signature of the room and smoothly fill in the diffuse energy field needed for chamber music.”

Implementation of the JaffeHolden Electronic Reflected Energy System (ERES — see sidebar on p. 56) meant that the room could be adapted electronically for other kinds of performances.

“Once we knew we were going to add an ERES, we also knew we needed to have the sound-absorbing areas more evenly distributed around the room,” Cooper says. “Although the ERES could work with the room as designed, balancing the absorption around the room would provide a more neutral palette for the ERES application.”

The room finishes had to change somewhat, but much less dramatically than would have been needed to create a fully musical room with the desired architectural look.

ERES works by sensing ambient sound in a space and creating appropriate sound reflections or boosting weak ones through a series of strategically placed loudspeakers. Loudspeakers for the ERES are mounted to the lighting pipes around the room, with subwoofers hidden in the ceiling. The entire room is now surfaced with slatted wood, which allows absorptive materials to be discreetly installed in areas where absorption is required. Alternating these materials not only balanced the room's acoustic signature, but it also maintained the consistent look sought by Renzo Piano.



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