Project Highlight: National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters

One of the top challenges at the new 237,000 sq. ft. North Carolina National Guard headquarters was to create infrastructure that would facilitate the real-time efforts of multiple agencies housed in the building – supporting their everyday work as well as when providing rapid response to emergency situations. Thorburn Associates was brought onto the design team by O’Brien/Atkins Associates, the architect for the project, to address acoustical and audiovisual design issues. The project is receiving statewide attention because it is being funded primarily through federal economic stimulus funds as noted by Governor Beverly Perdue and US House Member David Price in attendance at the ground breaking on May 26, 2009.

Originally, TA’s project scope was the National Guard headquarters and the state Division of Emergency Management. Late during the design phase the owner decided to add a department of transportation traffic management center and a highway patrol communications center to the building. This required TA to revise AV functionality of existing spaces and incorporate additional technology areas to support these groups and foster their ability to work closely with the Division of Emergency Management.

The Emergency Management area design incorporates a central briefing room with a large rear projected video wall for agency briefings. It is surrounded by smaller agency work areas where information is gathered and projected for review. The central briefing room can display a number of high resolution computer and video sources so that participants can view real-time storm tracks, network and cable TV news feeds, or other relevant information to the emergency at hand. A separate public briefing room is geared to media briefings by state officials and includes a rear platform for news media cameras with connections to their satellite news gathering trucks.

For the traffic management center it was a challenge to create a space that will allow at least five groups to monitor regional and state-wide traffic cameras, so they can provide a coordinated response. Working with O’Brien/Atkins Associates, TA designed an expandable video wall that allows traffic management staff to view a large number of camera feeds, and to enlarge and focus in on particular cameras.

Final design and installation of audiovisual systems for the building will occur over the next two years. The facility will be a great asset for the people of North Carolina.