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Office Depot HQ Gets an AV Makeover

When Office Depot called on architecture firm HOK to design its new global headquarters in BocaRaton, Fla., collaboration was a priority. From the low-height cubicle walls to the open layouts of glass and windows, the company wanted everything, including upscale amenities and all the installed AV, to adhere to a single overall theme.

CHALLENGE: Create a collaborative corporate space that will make the client more productive, while adhering to a strict schedule.

SOLUTION: Work around the clock, come up with creative ideas, and build in enough AV that the client appreciates its value to the company.

When Office Depot called on architecture firm HOK to design its new global headquarters in BocaRaton, Fla., collaboration was a priority. From the low-height cubicle walls to the open layouts of glass and windows, the company wanted everything, including upscale amenities and all the installed AV, to adhere to a single overall theme.


In Office Depot's executive boardroom, Xerox AV installed Sharp LCDs to each side of the main screen and a full Polycom videoconferencing system.

Credit: Barry Grossman Photography

"This was to be our global headquarters, so we wanted make sure we had state-of-the-art AV capabilities," says Joe Brink, senior consultant of global IT, infrastructure planning, and architecture for Office Depot. "[Our CEO] was looking for that 'wow' factor."

After completing the design, AV consultant EDI brought in Norcross, Ga.-based Xerox Audio Visual Solutions (operating then as Southern Business Communications) to integrate the systems and make them work within the facility's architecture. "We came in sort of late," admits Rachel Weller, project manager of Xerox AV. "All the trades were saying, 'Where have you been? We've got to get going.'" Yet one of the most challenging parts of the project, Weller says, was collaborating with the multiple trades on the multimillion-dollar project and adhering to the general contractor's strict schedule. "A lot of our conduit wasn't there because, unfortunately, you've got the AV set of drawings and then you've got the architectuals, and a lot of them didn't match up," Weller adds. "Nothing had really been coordinated with all the trades."

Xerox AV joined the project in February 2008 with a November 2008 deadline. "Everybody was under the same type of requirement," says Ralph Evans, associate for construction administration at HOK. Evans says no one was brought in ahead of time because of how quickly the project was moving: What a contractor saw one week might not necessarily be there the next. By the time Xerox AV began working with EDI's plans, the builders already were placing drywall. With nine months to work and more than 200 conference rooms, two security command centers, a cafeteria, training rooms, and an auditorium to equip, Xerox AV hit the ground running.


The 630,000-square-foot compound is made up of three five-story buildings–north, south, and center–connected by two lobbies, one for guests and one for employees. The north visitor lobby is near the vendor conference area with its 200 small, medium, and large conference rooms. Office Depot bought Sharp Aquos displays directly from the manufacturer for use throughout the facility, which helped keep the project under budget. "For consumer displays, they've done really well," says Weller.

One large vendor conference room on the first floor includes a Panasonic PTDW5000-U projector, a 123-inch diagonal Draper Acces V drop-down screen, and Polycom HDX9002 videoconferencing codec. Xerox AV stacked 52-inch Sharp Aquos displays on one side of the screen and a Sony EVID-100 camera mounted to the side. The idea was to create a more casual, intimate angle for conferencing than if the camera were mounted above the displays.

All of the conference rooms use Crestron TPMC-17 touch panels to control the AV, Biamp Nexia TC audio processors, and Shure microphones. Outside each room in the three-building campus–238 in all–there is a panel running Crestron's RoomView room management system. The software links to Office Depot's Microsoft Outlook calendar software, allowing employees to schedule a meeting in a specific room from either their desktop computers or at the panel outside the conference room.

Office Depot's new executive boardroom employs much of the same technology found in the vendor conference room, but required a little remodeling to accommodate the gear. A Draper rear-projection screen was too large to fit in the freight elevator and had to be lowered into the fifth-floor room by crane. And because boardroom construction was nearly complete, a portion of the external wall had to be removed and rebuilt to actually get the screen into the room. Behind it would eventually be a Christie rear-projection three-chip DLP DW5K in a Draper mirrored enclosure.

A pair of 52-inch Sharp Aquos displays hang on either side of the screen, and a Sony EVID-100 camera and eight Crown MB-1 microphones built into the conference table facilitate Polycom-based videoconferencing. Xerox AV chose an Extron Crosspoint 450 128HVA matrix switcher to route signals.

The security command center is located in the campus's center building. The command center includes five 52-inch Sharp Aquos displays on Chief PST2458 mounts. They're connected to Office Depot's security system and have the ability to monitor any of its stores around the world, as well as areas at itsheadquarters, such as parking garages. Next to the command center is what the company calls its war room, where Brink says IT and security teams use five 65-inch Sharp Aquos displays to monitor network security as well as any number of emergency situations, from hurricanes to computer virus threats. "The building's Category-5 rated [for hurricanes]," says Brink. "This would be a good place for rescue divisions to operate from."



The USGBC's lighting control touch panels (top) were considered harder to use than the AV button controls (bottom, on the wall) that AVS installed.

Credit: Courtesy Audio Video Systems

Digital signage was an important part of Office Depot's vision of a collaborative environment. The company has its own small production studio and wanted a way to distribute word about company news and events. There are 30 52-inch Sharp Aquos LCDs installed throught the building for signage purposes. Each is recessed in a glass enclosure in the wall and connected via HDMI to a Cisco digital media player. HD content is pushed over the network and controlled using RS-232, displaying the information about other Office Depot brand companies or Tony Stewart's latest NASCAR performance.

"It's a combination of text, ticker, and video," says Brink. "We have our up-to-the-minute, what's-happening-at-Office-Depot information there, and any special campaigns going on."

But according to Weller, the crowning jewel is the headquarters' auditorium, which seats nearly 2,800 and features a 25-foot Draper Cineperm screen above its stage. Office Depot wanted the room to serve as a multipurpose space that the company could share with the community. Flexibility was key, but it wasn't easy to accomplish. One of the many snags in the auditorium involved the subwoofers. "They were going to be recessed into the front of the stage," says Weller. "We got there and the stage was a solid concrete rectangle; they forgot to make provisions for the subwoofers."

In addition, EDI originally envisioned some of the the loudspeakers flying from the ceiling ampitheater-style, but Weller says the architect wanted a different look. Xerox AV solved the subwoofer and loudspeaker issues by working with HOK's Evans to install the eight JBL AC2212/64 loudspeakers and the three JBL ASB6128 subwoofers in the two columns on either side of the stage, covered with an acoustic cloth grille.

Still, the room's challenges didn't end there. The auditorium's ceiling, which was designed as a series of tiers that step down from the back of the room toward the stage, had to accommodate can lights, strip lights, 40 loudspeakers, and a Christie Roadster HDK18 projector. "Those tiles are very thin and they do not support any weight, so every speaker had to be supported by the roof deck at the top," says Weller. "With so much going on, it was very hard to get a clear shot straight up to the concrete of the ceiling." Xerox AV was able to use the steps to its advantage, encasing the Christie projector in one tier and a Polycom Eagle Eye HD camera in the tier behind it.

On stage is a knee wall with three teleprompter displays that Office Depot repurposed from its previous headquarters. The original design called for a rectangular-shaped wall, which would have made the displays hard to see, so Xerox AV sketched an angled design for the architect, who agreed to alter the plans.

Office Depot's headquarters was nearly complete by the November 2008 deadline, and the company began moving in. Unexpected furniture delays, which impacted placement of AV equipment, did cause Xerox AV to extend its stay. "We were working around room schedules," says Weller. "We actually ended up switching to night work in November because they had moved in and we were still working on rooms."

But Office Depot proved an understanding client. "[Xerox AV] was good at coordination," says Brink. "I had no idea how tough a job it was [going to be]."

The long hours of collaboration paid off. The state-of-the-art headquarters and multipurpose auditorium will benefit the company in the long run. "This is a huge opportunity for us because we used to travel to different places at quite a big expense," says Brink. "This facility has enough AV capability that we can do true corporate, high-impact events."

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