proAV is helping City, University of London improve its AV and communications performance, here Richard Everard, Senior Business Manager, Education, gives EI the inside track.
Richard explains, “proAV Limited is a global audio-visual systems integrator and support services provider. We specialise in corporate, public sector, education, retail, automotive, hotel, leisure and residential sectors. proAV has 9 offices globally and over 380 staff offering 24/7/365 support. proAV is a private company owned by Richard Brookes, Managing Director and Francesca Hazell, Operations Director.”
Some past achievements of note? Richard says, “From an Education perspective we have managed several projects for LSE over the years including the New Academic Building and most recently the Centre Buildings Redevelopment project. We were also proud to work with Cambridge Assessment last year, on their Triangle Building and not forgetting our award-winning work for University of Surrey, School of Veterinary Medicine.”
So, what about this project? “The City campus incorporates several buildings, and, thanks to their Designing Active Learning Initiative (DALI) project, which was launched in 2015, it is creating technology-enhanced learning spaces that enable higher level or active learning,” says Richard. “As part of this initiative, the University is refurbishing all learning spaces to provide cutting-edge AV equipment in a substantial undertaking that will match new technologies with teaching methods, room types and capacity.
“proAV were brought onboard directly by the University as their sole supplier. We are now over halfway through the work and further projects are planned for the University’s DALI spaces over the next two years.”
Richard underlines, “The commission of each City project under the DALI initiative has resulted in a wealth of exciting benefits that engender engaging, interactive teaching, a superlative learning experience and a welcome return on investment opportunities for the client.
“The DALI initiative’s standardisation of AV systems and their basic operations across teaching spaces has dramatically enhanced the way the University’s lecturers can present to their students. Since each room teaches in the same way, albeit with a higher level of AV to aid teaching, lecturers can simply walk into a class and present professionally and effortlessly using the in-room lecture capture, visualiser and sound systems – regardless of whether they’re familiar with the environment.”
Richard adds, “The student experience has also been dramatically enriched; the latest display and presentation technologies encourage productivity and inspire a more insightful and value-added learning experience.
proAV’s close collaboration with the University has ensured every project completed under the DALI scheme has been commissioned according to the University’s strict timelines and within its specified budget.”
Richard offers a journey through the project, “proAV is typically tasked with delivering two major projects, comprising multiple teaching spaces over each academic year, with less complex AV schemes commissioned during the Christmas holiday period. In line with our assignment to upgrade these assigned spaces, proAV is delivering extensive display, lecture capture, presentation, projection, audio and control solutions throughout seminar spaces, meeting rooms, lecture theatres and teaching labs.
“Most recent AV installations include the Drysdale Building’s PC teaching labs project, which formed part of a larger refurbishment project. Multiple projection and large format display (LFD) systems to accommodate lecture capture hardware were supported by a professional audio arrangement.
“A special requirement here was for AV within these labs to operate in either ‘standard’, ‘shared’ or ‘independent’ teaching mode, whereby lectern output can be directed to LFDs, overriding local sources and locking out local touch panels, to the projector only or to nominated LFDs.”
And the expanded functionality does not end there, Richard continues, “The Summer 2018 project to bring the Cass Business School and Northampton Square campus up to DALI specification represented a particularly complex scheme. It involved four horseshoe-shaped lecture theatres (Cass) and a multitude of further small, medium and large lecture theatres, seminar spaces and PC labs – a total of 29 rooms.
“Again, projection lecture capture facilities, professional audio, vast, innovative writing walls and sophisticated lectern control and management dominated the teaching spaces. The Winter 2018/2019 project utilises similar AV solutions that suit the small lecture theatres and seminar and meeting room arrangements in the Drysdale Building.”
Input into the design process has been crucial, as Richard explains, “Proposed AV systems that ensure each teaching space is commensurate with DALI’s provision for AV-enhanced learning have been subject to proAV’s design input and have subsequently evolved into a relatively standardised specification that delivers the flexibility and ease of use sought by the University.
“Key technologies include Extron HDMI matrices and ProDSP digital matrix processors, Echo360 lecture capture capability, Wolfvision’s leading VZ-series visualisers, NEC projection and display systems, Crestron management and control, TeamMate custom lectern arrangements and Teacherboards and Squiggle Glass large format writing walls.”
Meeting the challenges
Every project has its challenges and here was not different, Richard says, “Central to the continuing success of the City, DALI initiative, proAV and other specialist contractors are committed to upgrading the teaching rooms outside of term times when the University’s buildings are empty.
“Whilst the time constraints during the summer months are challenging enough for the project team, the winter semester only allows a three to four-week window to deliver and commission the entire requisite AV solution. Coordinating activity with refurbishment, electrical and networking trades, whose work must be completed prior to the physical AV installation, can prove a formidable task.
“Lower ground floor rooms within the Drysdale Building also presented difficulties as they are set below the water table. With previous flooding issues to consider, proAV designed the cabling within these rooms to run downwards to the floors rather than through them to mitigate any potential outage risk in the event of water ingress.
Summing up, Richard comments, “Our work with City is still going strong. I am particularly looking forward to our next phase which includes their flagship lecture theatre which will include a 5m 4K resolution screen.”
Essential Kit List
- NEC HD projectors with Screen International projector screens
- NEC large format repeater displays throughout
- Crestron central control
- Extron matrices, DSP processors and video scalers
- Ecler professional audio solutions, ceiling speakers and wall mounted loudspeakers
- Beyerdynamic overhead lecture capture mics
- Lecture capture hardware and platform from Echo360
- TeamMate customised presentation lecterns with recessed Crestron touch panels
- Wolfvision Desk visualisers
- Diamond PTZ cameras for video conferencing and huddle spaces
- Sennheiser SpeechLine digital wireless microphones
- Teacherboard multipurpose VES projection writing walls