Installation Profile: AV Update
Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley
Architectural firm RTKL redesigns the U.S. Naval Academy’s historic mess hall with flexible AV.
The first challenge was one that's familiar to any AV designer in the initial stages of a project: aligning the expectations of the client with the realities of the situation. The academy had expressed a desire to place large LED screens at the end of each of the three wings.
“There were several obstacles with that,” Warner says. “It would have made quite a statement, but it still would have been hard to see without obstructions from 200ft. away with such a low ceiling, and a large LED display would have been very much out of step with its surroundings. Aesthetically, it just didn't work.”
Warner's team showed the academy its viewing-angle studies and suggested a different approach that instead placed 74 Sharp PN-455P 45in. LCD screens along the walls of each wing. The viewing-angle findings, along with the heat generation and electrical considerations of the LED screens as well as a cost analysis, led the academy to concur.
“This is something that happens many, many times on projects, and we're not in the business of saying ‘no,’ but we have to support any alternative recommendations with as much data as we can,” Warner says. “Success is achieved when both the client and the designer reach the same conclusions independently.”
The long wings presented a cabling challenge for high-definition video in the form of lengthy cable runs. Warner opted to go with UTP distribution using a Magenta Research distribution system consisting of eight MultiView UTx UTP transmitters, 10 MultiView 9D UTP distribution amplifiers, and 80 MultiView AK500 UTP receivers.
“That way, we were able to transmit a 1920×1080 resolution throughout the entire length of each wing,” Warner says.
The low-slung design of each of those wings meant the placement of the 74 LCD screens would be critical. Initially the angle-of-viewing studies were done using the 8X rule: placing the screens so that the furthest viewer would be no more than eight times the height of the image away from the display. However, after considering the type of content that would be routinely displayed, the decision was made to double that calculation to 16X.
“If the content was going to be, say, course material that required intensive viewing of the screens, then we would have stayed with the 8X formula,” Warner says. “But the content was going to mainly be casual viewing material — CNN and other non-critical content. It would be more like the way displays are positioned in airport waiting areas.” That allowed the team to space the displays out more, thus reducing the overall number of displays needed.
The displays are supported with Chief Manufacturing PCM-2045 mounts that are attached to the structure above the finished ceiling with a 6ft. pole. The ceiling was made of glass-fiber-reinforced gypsum (GFRG), a pre-formed drywall-like material that would not support the weight of the displays. This called for close structural coordination between RTKL's AV designers and structural engineers.
“It was important that we all worked together to make sure there was adequate support at each point where we needed to place a screen,” Warner says. Access panels were designed into the GFRG ceiling through which the mounts could later be attached to the ceiling by AV integrator AVI (now AVI-SPL).
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