The use of audiovisual technology within the university setting is finally catching up with the corporate world. As new buildings are funded and older buildings renovated, the learning environment is being enhanced though the use of technology. Technology is no longer limited to large rooms; smaller recitation rooms are now being fitted out. Distance learning classrooms are replacing large lecture halls. Power point presentations on large projection screens are replacing unreadable overhead transparencies. Custom lecterns with touch sensitive control panels are replacing manual controls of lights, drapes, projection equipment, and other audiovisual equipment. Remote monitoring of technology is providing more reliable equipment, thus improving instructors’ willingness to use the technology. The addition of reinforced audio is increasing the importance of the acoustics within the learning environment. Some of our recently completed projects include the following:
University of North Carolina at Wilmington School of Education Building, Wilmington, NC Architect: Jenkins Peer Architects
Located on the UNC Wilmington campus this three-story, 82,000 square foot building provides a new home for the School of Education on campus. Touted as a state of the art education facility, the building includes technology classrooms, conference rooms and distance learning facilities. The building is designed around a central atrium which houses education exhibits highlighting the history of education while also honoring past educators and milestones in public primary and secondary education.
Thorburn Associates provided audiovisual and acoustical consulting services for the project. The design of technology spaces included large distance-learning classrooms using dual rear projection systems for the audience, and a fully outfitted control room integrated into the rear projection space. A lecture hall with divisible wall provides individual classrooms with front screen projection and a movable lectern when divided. When the rooms are combined, a few simple touches of the control system touch panel combines the technology to provide dual front projection for the whole room. Movable lecterns can be placed at one of three locations within the larger room. The University wanted simple controls with low maintenance requirements for the long term. In addition, several seminar rooms, conference rooms, and computer labs were outfitted with AV projection and control systems. A standard custom lectern was designed to meet the owners’ unique requirements. For most classrooms, AV equipment is mounted in a small table height lectern, non-user technical equipment is locked behind a door, and user accessible equipment (such as dedicated computer, DVD/VCR, etc.) is in a secure rack enclosure in the lectern. This allows “full access” to equipment without the need to provide doors or issue keys to instructors using the room. The design allows maximum access with minimal maintenance requirements.
North Carolina A & T State University General Classroom Building, Greensboro, NC Architect: The Freelon Group
Located on the Greensboro, NC campus, this multi phase project consists of a 5 building complex, consisting of over 200,000 square feet of classroom and office space that forms the core classroom space on campus. Two new buildings with adjoining upper floors were constructed and 3 existing buildings were gutted, renovated and connected to the new buildings. In addition to classroom instruction for the School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences, a Performing Arts Theater was also part of the complex. A campus TV studio moved from the first floor to the third floor of one of the renovated buildings, which required special consideration for acoustics and communications access.
Thorburn Associates provided full technology consulting services including audiovisual, acoustical, and structured cabling. Technology spaces included distance learning classroom spaces, a large tiered auditorium with rear projection, tiered classrooms, computer labs, and conference rooms all utilizing AV technology. The buildings use state of the art projection systems that allow full control via the campus computer network and allow instructors to use traditional connections via their laptop video connector as well as the ability to run PowerPoint presentations from their laptops via their laptops network connection. In addition to the audiovisual systems, the acoustical issues associated with the third floor campus TV studio required careful review to confirm noise levels within the studio and adjacent office areas were acceptable for a broadcast environment. The structured cabling system set the standard for future University buildings by providing a design that allowed existing analog phones systems to work while also allowing the University to easily transition to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution in the future without any change to the structured cabling system.
Evergreen Valley College Library / Educational Technology Center, San Jose, CA Architect: The Steinberg Group
Located on the Evergreen Valley College campus this 3-story, 77,000 square foot building provides a new home for the Library and Educational Technology Center on campus. This state of the art educational facility includes technology classrooms, conference rooms and distance learning facilities.
Like the UNC Wilmington project above, Thorburn Associates provided audiovisual and acoustical consulting services. The technology spaces include two large distance learning classrooms using rear projection systems for the audience with a shared, fully outfitted control room at the rear of the classrooms. The University wanted simple controls with low maintenance requirements for the long term. In addition, conference/meeting rooms, an open lab center, and computer labs were outfitted with AV projection and control systems. A standard custom lectern includes non-user technical equipment locked behind a door and user accessible equipment (such as dedicated computer, DVD/VCR, etc.) mounted in a secure rack enclosure in the lectern. This provides maximum access with minimal maintenance requirements.
Unique to this project, the computer labs utilize a software program that allows the instructor to view a student’s computer image with the option of displaying it through the projection system. This helps students learn from other students as well as allowing the instructor to use student work as an example. A lobby interactive display system directs students through the building as well as two other display devices that inform students of campus activities and news. The outdoor terrace area provides a gathering space for students and is technology ready for bands, presentations, or campus socials. In addition to these systems, there is a building wide paging system.