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A Meeting of the Minds

Sep 21, 2010 4:52 PM, By Dan Daley

Mobile provider Cricket's new San Diego headquarters is designed for creative collaboration.

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A training room can be reconfigured into two rooms via an automated room divider. Each side of the room is equipped with a Da-Lite Advantage Deluxe Electrol dropdown screen and a ceiling-mounted NEC NP2150 projector.

Training Day

A configurable training room can be used as a single large space or divided into two 30'x40' spaces with a dropdown automated room divider. Each side has its own Da-Lite Advantage Deluxe Electrol dropdown screen and ceiling-mounted NEC NP2150 projector. Lighting and window shades are automated using Lutron's Grafik Eye QS system. AMX automation allows the room's users to sync the two projectors when the room is used as a single space and let them operate independently when the room is divided.

The training space as well as the executive boardrooms and several other spaces in the building allows users to stream media to and from the rooms. Cricket's own IT department created the building's Ethernet backbone; Cricket was asked to install network switches at key points in certain rooms and set them for unicast or multicast as needed. These switches allow laptops to act as the interfaces for Internet-streamed data to come into the AV distribution and display systems, and to port it to Cricket's inhouse servers for archiving using a Mediapointe DMR HD. A unique aspect to this is the fact that the system is designed to allow a combination of streamed input and realtime audio and video that's generated as part of training sessions to be stored as data files, such as any audio picked up by the eight AKG C 562 CM flush-mount boundary microphones suspended from the ceiling in the training room.

<i>The building's café (above) is one of the many collaborative spaces. In the café, a 
Da-Lite Advantage Electrol screen drops down with content provided via a Mitsubishi WD6700 projector and audio provided by 24 Bose DS 16F ceiling-mount speakers.</i>

Employees at Cricket's new HQ are able to stretch out comfortably in the building’s new café, but they’re still just a button's touch from a collaborative environment. One end of the spacious eatery has a blackout drape that moves in as a Da-Lite Advantage Electrol screen drops down, turning the restaurant into a theater. Twenty-four Bose DS 16F ceiling-mount speakers are hung on three-point pendants to keep them at the same level as the HVAC vents in the open ceiling, achieving the goals of making the audio invisible and keeping it below the noise generated by the HVAC system. The Mitsubishi 60in. WD series HD display is also able to connect to the building's Ethernet infrastructure, allowing streaming to the café's AV system.

Those farthest away from the screen can see the content on a 65in. Sharp LC65D64U LCD display and a Samsung 8000 series LCD display that are positioned at the far end of the cafeteria. These screens, positioned slightly to the right of the main axis of the café, are also tied into the building’s satellite TV system, allowing employees to choose commercial programming such as sports via an AMX MVP8400 wireless touchpanel controller.

These displays and others are also tied into the building's digital signage component, whose main thread is a series of displays mounted in the building's 12 elevator lobbies, split between the building's north and south entrances. In each of the lobbies is a 52in. Samsung 520DXn LCD screen with speakers embedded in the display. The first-floor displays have an AMX Inspired Express digital signage player attached. Content from these players is also sent via Hall Research Cat-5 cabling to the floors above.


One of the more radical types of spaces in the building are the cocoons, circular, partially walled areas that encourage nonlinear thinking and that let users plug themselves in easily. In each of these spaces, two 55in. Samsung 8000 series displays are wall-mounted on Premier Mounts AM3 articulating arms, allowing the screens to point almost anywhere in the space. Each screen is connected to two of four floor boxes that let users plug in laptops. “The AV here was intended to support the kind of brainstorming they envision taking place in these cocoons,” Ellis says. “The important parts of the design were to make interfacing with the screens as easy as interfacing with each other in the space, and to make the screens as easily visible as possible. The AV really supports the exchange of ideas well in these spaces.”

Another unique collaborative space is the courtyards, open spaces in the middle of two lines of work cubicles that let employees gather together. Each courtyard has a 55in. Samsung 8000 series LCD mounted at one end as well as both VGA and HDMI connection points for laptops that are strung together using Hall Research Cat-5 cabling to give the HDMI access points longer reach.

These kinds of connectivity and collaborative touches are found throughout the Cricket facility in Sam Diego, including a vendor meeting room with its own projection system and an employee gym that features audio and video links to the building's satellite entertainment channels as well as an iPod docking station. And much of this will soon be found in a regional HQ in Denver that CompView is also doing the AV systems design and integration for. “The idea is that you can go from San Diego to Denver and the space will look and act the same,” Ellis says. “There's no interruption in the aesthetics or in functionality.” In other words, there are no barriers to creativity and the exchange of ideas—which, in the highly competitive arena of wireless devices, will be a very good thing.

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