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Blueprint for Success in Corporate Boardrooms

The tony corporate boardroom is a well-trod market for AV integrators, but not the most hospitable one. Some rooms are older than the oldest board members, barely wired for speakerphone, let alone stereo surround sound and high-definition plasmas. Others, the new rooms, are so image-conscious they're built without regard for the way AV and architecture must play nicely together.

The tony corporate boardroom is a well-trod market for AV integrators, but not the most hospitable one. Some rooms are older than the oldest board members, barely wired for speakerphone, let alone stereo surround sound and high-definition plasmas. Others, the new rooms, are so image-conscious they're built without regard for the way AV and architecture must play nicely together.

Now, ironically, AV technology is nudging some old-style boardrooms toward obsolescence while extending the lives of others. At the same time, high-quality audio- and video-conferencing have become so affordable that they are blurring corporate lines of authority and with them, the distinctions between the boardroom sanctuary and other meeting rooms.

Integrating video displays–particularly for videoconferencing–can be tough in a boardroom. Creative solutions like this one by CCS Presentation Systems can help.

Integrating video displays–particularly for videoconferencing–can be tough in a boardroom. Creative solutions like this one by CCS Presentation Systems can help.

Credit: Julie Solomon, CCS Presentation Systems

That was the experience of AVW-TELAV, an integrator that recently completed a multiroom installation at the Mississauga, Ontario, head office of Intuit, the maker of Quicken and TurboTax software. Intuit has a non-hierarchical culture that encourages collaboration, and its AV design reflects that, says Ken Kruse, AVW-TELAV's Toronto regional operations manager. "The rooms are all outfitted quite extensively with audio-visual control systems," Kruse says.

Three conference rooms have boardroom-style tables. Polycom HDX 9000 videoconferencing units and SoundStructure C12 audio digital signal processors (DSPs) were chosen as the conferencing platform, with Beyer boundary mics resting flat on the tables. AMX touch panels of various sizes provide standard controls across rooms, while Middle Atlantic hardware with rails lets equipment racks slide out from credenzas in every room.

"It's less about a single amazing boardroom and more about the entire facility that might stretch out to six or more AV-equipped meeting rooms and digital signage," says Byron Tarry, AVW-TELAV's general manager for systems design and integration. "What was the jewel in the crown in the past–the boardroom–in my opinion has started to fade a little bit."

One reason, Tarry says, is viewing distances and ceiling heights of many boardrooms don't lend themselves to a good AV experience. Another is the traditional focus on visual extravagances, such as glass tables, marble floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. "We build these beautiful rooms that might be acoustic nightmares," he says.

Such constraints can make existing boardrooms ill suited to the collaborative technology many companies are embracing as a management strategy.

"Videoconferencing is not very effective in a 30-foot boardroom," Tarry says. Besides, the increasing affordability of ultra-realistic telepresence conferencing makes it possible to create a virtual boardroom out of smaller, geographically dispersed videoconferencing rooms. "I chop my boardroom table into three or four different pieces and ship them around to three or four places," he says.

"What makes a boardroom may or may not be defined by the AV," says Tim Cape, principal consultant at the design firm Technitect. A boardroom, after all, is just one type of conference room, typically differentiated by its high-end furniture, wall coverings, and other touches, such as covered or recessed projector screens or video displays, Cape explains. Rear projection is used more frequently in boardrooms than in typical conference rooms, and both projector and screen are more likely to be motorized and retractable from the ceiling, he says.



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