Published in August 2005

‘Shack’s' Sprawling World HQ Evolves
By Jim Stokes

AV figures heavily into RadioShack’s master plan.


The RadioShack headquarters campus in Ft. Worth TX.

    From a network operations center to conference and training rooms, AV plays a major role in the function of RadioShack’s new campus. The consumer electronics retailer recently commemorated the grand opening of its new 900,000 square foot World Headquarters Riverfront Campus in downtown Fort Worth TX. Four buildings comprise the 38 acre master-planned site on the south bank of the Trinity River.
     The campus is a historic locale as well because it’s near the location of the original US Army Fort Worth outpost, built in 1849. In addition, the campus is at the hub of the proposed Trinity River Project downtown master plan, which includes a town lake and waterfront. The downtown plan is designed to help accomplish a renaissance of the greater central city area, resulting in a substantial mix of people living, working, playing and learning.
     The sloping riverfront acreage presented many opportunities and challenges for the architectural, design and construction partners, led by construction manager The Staubach Company, architectural firm HKS Inc., general contractor The Beck Group, the SWA group and others. RadioShack wanted a master plan that would embrace the river and create an attractive and functional transition from the urban grid to water’s edge. The key was to restore and enhance the site’s ecology and landscape from a flood plane, 16 acre asphalt parking lot and outdated public housing to a new scenario that includes public and campus connection to the river (see also the accompanying RadioShack sidebar).

AV Project Background
     In our AV tour of the new facility, we’ll be guided by Joe Booher, Pelton Marsh Kinsella (PMK), and Donny Hornbeck, install project manager, FAV/Ford Audio-Video Systems, Oklahoma City. The Campus Audiovisual Systems were designed by Booher and Tim Lindstrom, senior consultants with PMK in Dallas TX. Acoustical Consulting for the campus was performed by Ted Carnes, PhD, PMK senior acoustical consultant.
     According to Booher, PMK began project conversations in late 2002/early 2003. “We were brought in as specialty consultants under HKS, the architects of record,” he noted. RadioShack affirmed that it wanted to exemplify an image of technology, expecting that every display device in the new facility must be in 16x9 aspect ratio and capable of high-definition display as well. “The challenge was to find that,” said Booher. “At the time of those discussions, we were just starting to see some 16x9 projectors emerging on the scene. But most of those were fairly low power, home theater-type units. And there really wasn’t a huge selection of flat-panel displays out there. This project has all LCD flat panels because, when we discussed content that would be displayed, it could be graphics and it could be TV [broadcasts]. Plasmas were out for displaying static graphics,” he offered.
     The 16x9 projector criteria deemed that the product beused in a commercial environment and provide high light levels. “As luck would have it, Sanyo was the choice,” said Booher. So now, PMK had chosen the projectors and the displays. These products also met the requirements of being able to deliver hi-def content to displays from satellite sources as well as digital TV stations and locally generated content. “Part of our strategy was to specify products that had retail partner agreements with RadioShack,” he said. Samsung and Sanyo were important partners. “In fact, RadioShack and Samsung jointly sponsor the Nextel Cup race at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.”


View of the Energy Auditorium from the rear control room.

In-House Production
     It’s a little known fact that RadioShack has produced many of its own commercials in-house for many years. And the company had progressed to a high-end digital Circle R television production facility. Although the campus AV project began with Circle R owned by RadioShack, during the course of the project, it was spun off and sold. However, RadioShack remains Circle R’s primary client. Russ Berger Group designed the facility.
     So ultimately, the campus-wide delivery system is digital cable. And by synergistic design, the cable head-end is close by the Circle R production facility, which is also close to the auditorium. Thus, fiberoptic cable serves the campus’s four buildings. And that segues into the areas of satellite and security.
     The primary satellite tuner for campus displays is the DishNet 811 HDTV receiver. It’s used in conjunction with the Blonder Tongue QT Series QAM transcoder. “That gave us the backbone to be able to distribute video signals throughout the campus to approximately 600 ports,” said Booher. The head end also includes a three terabyte digital MPEG server for locally generated content. The hefty digital storage terabytes can be played out on four Drake QAM modulators, which are called the “Shack” channels.


The executive conference room.

     Control is via Crestron Media Manager QuickMedia, which incorporates integrated and distributed video and audio switching/routing. Thus, all displays are Ethernet network connected via Cat5e cable. “This was one of the first major projects to receive QuickMedia,” Hornbeck pointed out. “We wound up being a Beta site for it. QuickMedia was a lifesaver, cablewise. Because you’re using Cat5e, you don’t have to pull multiple video and audio lines.”

Campus-wide Use
     Subsequently, MediaManager and RoomView are used campus-wide, from the ROC (RadioShack Operations Center) to conference and training areas. Touchpanel screens range from five- to 15-inch, depending on their use.
     And looking at the security control aspect, the Blonder Tongue Interdiction system takes a particular cable passive distribution piece and replaces it with an intelligent device that’s under control from a centralized computer. So, every one of the aforementioned 600 campus ports is individually addressable. Interdiction works in conjunction with Blonder Tongue’s VMIU/Video Mask Interdiction Unit jamming modules system.
     The result is analogous to a cable pay-per-view system. For example, if RadioShack had a sales meeting that it didn’t want received by everybody on the campus cable system, an email would go out to authorized individuals, noting a certain channel could only be accessed by them at 2 p.m. At that time, only those particular ports would be opened at the head end. All unauthorized others tuning to that channel would find it jammed. Then, as soon as the program was over, that channel would be dead again.
     For additional security, according to Booher, the local Fort Worth Muzak company installed the PMK-designed sound masking system for each building on campus. The above-ceiling system uses Quam speakers, QSC amplifiers and the QSC Basis box, which sits on the RadioShack network and is capable of being controlled via a visual basic GUI.
     Because some terms and products reoccur throughout the install, for the sake of avoiding repetition, we’ll point those out now. For example, we’ve already established the 16x9 format Sanyo projector and Samsung display products throughout the facility. The only exceptions to 16x9 are the 5x4 data displays in the ROC. Similarly, all surround sound and most ceiling and wall speakers are Tannoy. However, Altec Lansings are found in public corridors. All electrically operated front-projection screens used in the conference and training rooms are Da-Lite. The two high-end presentation spaces use Da-Lite rear-projection screens with mirror assemblies by Draper. The 5x4 front-projection screens in the ROC are made by Stewart Filmscreen. Equipment racks are all Middle Atlantic. Power amplifiers are all QSC.

Operations Center
     According to Hornbeck, “The ROC had to be online by the first part of September 2004. So, from the time the contract was awarded in early July 2004, getting the drawings done and getting the ROC on line, was a push! The construction was pretty much completed when we were called in.”
     "This is the network surveillance space where network performance is monitored. And it’s also a call center for computing problems,” said Booher. For ease of viewing, the ROC’s front wall is curved. There are seven front-projection screens, which show data from seven 5800 lumen projectors. Interspersed and stacked vertically between the screens are eight 40-inch LCDs. As mentioned, this is the only room where the screens are not 16x9 ratio, but rather 5x4 for displaying data. Projected screen data are matrixed via AutoPatch and Crestron. In addition, personnel monitor such sources as CNN, Weather Channel and Bloom- berg. Audio is heard over ceiling speakers.


The public displays in the Main Street area of the headquarters facility.

     Delving further into the projection screens, six are smaller compared to the one huge 80x100-inch screen that goes to the top of the ceiling. This largest screen is sized so the horizontal center line of all the screens is on the same axis. The six- to eight-inch space on either side of the big screen is filled with a Translux tri-color LED display, which is 67 feet long and eight inches high. The Translux displays various time-zone clocks as well as call statistics.
     Although the ROC’s front wall was designed for viewing ease, the concave space was expected to exhibit a focusing effect toward telephone and conversation noise generated within ROC, focusing the noise back to the primary viewing areas. “So we specified Stewart micro-perforated screens,” explained Booher. “And there is two-inches of black fiberglass duct liner behind those screens, which absorbs the noise. The screens become acoustically transparent, so the entire front wall is an absorber.”

Broadcast Pre-Wire
     PMK’s Booher noted that the AV consulting firm has done a lot of broadcast pre-wire for sports because “it’s not uncommon to accommodate television production trucks. However, this one was kind of ‘backward’ from the typical systems that we would design for a sports facility in that, instead of the wiring from the broadcast panels routing to a truck parking location outside the facility, this system design had the wiring ‘collapsing’ internally back to the internal broadcast production facility.”
     The broadcast pre-wire install manifests itself in interface boxes at 13 strategic locations on campus. For example, they include such diverse locales as the high-end conference rooms, the dining area, outdoors and RadioShack prototype stores. “This project is a ‘first’ for us to accommodate high-definition cameras,” said Booher. “SMPTE 304 is the standard that was used, employing a hybrid fiberoptic/copper cabling scheme. That is, there are two single-mode fiber cables and copper pairs. So the actual video transmission in each direction is over fiber. Then the power and communications to the camera are over standard copper. So they call it, ‘SMPTE hybrid fiber cable’.” Each box has connectivity for three cameras with two types of connectors. There’s the standardized SMPTE 304 hybrid fiber connector for high-definition cameras. And there are the familiar Triax connectors that have been around for many years.
     FAV installer Hornbeck noted that RadioShack on-campus prototype stores are used as practical shooting locale for their TV commercials. The stores serve as training grounds for RadioShack personnel. The broadcast pre-wire allows the production crew to connect cameras to the interface box. “All the recording is done at the broadcast facility, so the crew doesn’t have to bring a whole bunch of equipment on-location.”

Auditorium
     In the 400-capacity, tiered-seating auditorium, front projectors are double-stacked for showing on each of the two front-of-room screens, if there’s a need for extra brightness. “That’s because there’s specialty lighting in this room for television production, because it’s an adjunct to the production facility,” said Booher. There are two broadcast camera interconnect boxes in the auditorium where as many as six cameras can be connected at one time. In addition, there are tie-lines and Clear-Com intercom links between the auditorium and the production facility. The back-of-house control room houses the racks, 24-channel Crest mixing console, switching and some touchpanels. AKG wireless are used at the front of the room. And the auditorium is equipped with 7.1 surround sound. This high-end space uses Folsum scalers and scan converters to provide high-quality, seamless switching for the projectors, as well as providing HD-SDI digital video conversion of presentations that is routable to the production facility.

Conference Rooms
     There are two high-end videocon-ferencing rooms, which are similar in function. Both have 7.1 surround sound and AV conferencing. The Tandberg codec has window processing and is capable of displaying a multi-site videoconference simultaneously. The codec works in conjunction with Sony Evid cameras. Viewing is via rear-screen projection. The common decor thread in both rooms is a band of black ebonite that spans around the table. Correspondingly, the MediaManager in-table box is black anodized and provides the same range of laptop, audio, video and power accessibilities as the wall plates throughout the campus. There’s one of these boxes for every two participants seated at the table. Each position has an Audio-Technica mic and a speaker.


The Fitness Center features ceiling speakers and 30-inch CRTs.

     The 5x7-inch black box with a three-inch Tang Band speaker was customized by Atlas per PMK’s concept specs. “We created a flush tabletop box that contains a speaker with an angled mounting plate whose angle of incidence is on axis with your ears,” said Booher. During distance conferencing, the room’s L/C/R program and surround speakers plus the individual Tang Band speakers come into play. Also, Tang Bands are fed from a MediaMatrix in a mix-minus configuration. Peavey DSP is also used in the auditorium and multi-purpose room.

Meat & ‘Tators Rooms
     There are 34 “meat and potatoes” type, similarly equipped general conference rooms. These busy, useful rooms have a MediaManager wall plate mounted in FSR floor boxes located under the conference table. The QM 7x2 matrix switcher accepts the QuickMedia input from the floor box. There’s a BRK black laminate wooden rack that slides into a credenza near the front of the room that houses the switcher, an Extron interface for a local computer, a VCR and a DVD player. A document camera can be patched in as well. Self-powered speakers provide sound. Pictures are front-screen projected. The master QuickMedia receiver is IR button controlled. “We had to go to IR because of the density of these spaces,” Booher pointed out. “They’re really very close to each other. It was such that we were really nervous about the RF.”
     Here’s a summary of other campus spaces. The multi-purpose room is a secondary meeting combinable space, which can be split into three sections as needed. Because of the depth of space versus ceiling height, there are four projector screens: one on either end and two in the middle space. “This was all done with QuickMedia,” said Booher.
     In addition, there are several training spaces with training stations, which vary in size requiring speech reinforcement. However, all these areas require two small BRK racks and there’s a teaching station near the front of the room. Thus, these training spaces have larger capability for computers, document cameras and other AV sources.
     Three 50-inch rear-projection DLP monitors display CNN for passersby on “Main Street,” the main central corridor on campus. The monitors are located outside the coffee shop area.
     Finally, the Fitness Center uses 30-inch CRTs for viewing a variety of content while exercising. Sound emanates from ceiling speakers. And there’s a touchpanel in the desk.

Pelton Marsh Kinsella
Pelton Marsh Kinsella (PMK), with offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami and Dubai, provides consulting and design services in acoustics, audio and visual technologies, both nationally and internationally. Founded in 1984, the firm creates innovative, yet practical and cost-effective solutions. Projects range from quick turnaround assignments to large, complex work. Its client list encompasses airports, broadcast facilities, convention centers, data centers, high rises, industrial and environmental noise control, military, office buildings, performing arts facilities, religious facilities, sports and themed entertainment.


Ford Audio-Video Systems, Inc.
Ford Audio-Video Systems, Inc./FAV, Oklahoma City, was founded in 1973 as Ford Audio & Acoustics, Inc., by Jim and Claire Ford. Initially the company rented sound systems and designed and built recording studios from the ground up. Allied services included acoustics, noise control, lighting and audio electronics. Today, its large Oklahoma City home-base facility provides engineering project management, fabrication and testing, training and product demonstration. FAV offices include Tulsa, Dallas, Denver, Nashville and Las Vegas. FAV offers a wide range of AV services as well as customer training, forums, seminars and rentals. Projects include churches, airports, corporate, educational, entertainment, government and sports.


RadioShack Corp.
Consumer electronics specialty retailer, Fort Worth TX-based RadioShack Corp., is also a growing provider of business-to-business retail support services. The company operates a vast network of sales channels, including almost 7000 company-owned and dealer stores, almost 100 RadioShack locations in Mexico, and more than 600 Sprint and Sam’s Club wireless kiosks. RadioShack’s sales associates deliver product and service solutions within five minutes of where 94% of all Americans live or work. For more information, go to www.radioshack corporation.com.


Equipment

RadioShack's ROC operations center.

The control room at the rear of the Energy Auditorium.

27 AKG WMS 4000 series wireless mic systems
84 Altec Lansing CF2048TWG ceiling speakers
46 Atlas custom enclosures for Tang Band speakers
3 Andrew 90cm DBS satellite dishes
48 Audio-Technica mics
9 Autopatch matrix switchers
12 Bittree patchbays
54 Blonder Tongue QTM QAM transcoders
8 Blonder Tongue QTM-HD transcoders
1 Blonder Tongue Interdiction interface,
control computer
2 Blonder Tongue FIBT series broadband
fiberoptic transmitters
4 Blonder Tongue FRDA series broadband
fiberoptic receivers
1 Blonder Tongue FOC-23-18-U fiberoptic splitter
157 Blonder Tongue VMIU/video jammer modules
1 Clear-Com Intercom system: 2 CC260 dual muff
headsets; 6 CC95 single muff headsets; 1 KB212 wall
station; 1 RM220 intercom station; 6 RS501
beltpacks; 2 RS522 beltpacks; 1 SB-440 4-channel
mainstation; 1 TW12B system interface
1 Crest XFour24 24-channel mixing console
4 Crestron C2N-DAP8
2 Crestron C2N-DVP4DI
52 Crestron CNXRMIRD
7 Crestron CP2E processors
2 Crestron MP2E processors
3 Crestron PRO2 processors
43 Crestron QM-FTMC-B tabletop
interfaces
23 Crestron QM-MD7X2
99 Crestron QM-RMCRX
99 Crestron QM-WMC wall panels
4 Crestron ST-1700C touchpanels
19 Crestron TPS-1700 touchpanels
4 Crestron TPS-4500 touchpanels
52 Crestron WPR-48 remote controls
47 Da-Lite 52"x92" Deluxe Advantage Electrol 16:9
electric projection screens
4 Da-Lite 65"x116" Deluxe Advantage Electrol 16:9
electric projection screens
4 Da-Lite 79"x140" Deluxe Advantage Electrol 16:9
electric projection screens
4 Da-Lite 90"x160" Deluxe Advantage Electrol 16:9
electric projection screens
2 Da-Lite 65"x116" Daplex DA-100 rigid rear-projection screens
4 Drake QAM modulators
2 Draper custom projection mirror assemblies
4 Drake TQAM-ASI modulators w/DUC 860
49 Echostar 811 HDTV receivers
12 Echostar 301 receivers

3 Echostar Dishpro LNBs
agile upconverter
Extron scalers
Extron computer interfaces
Extron switchers
17 Folsum ImagePRO scalers
2 Folsum ImagePRO-HD scalers
22 FSR FL-500 floor boxes
51 Furman PL8-II power conditioners
48 Middle Atlantic BRK12 equipment racks
6 Middle Atlantic ERK4020 equipment racks
11 Middle Atlantic ERK5531 equipment racks
7 Middle Atlantic SR4028 swinging wall racks
4 Peavey MF-280R DSP mainframe
26 Peavey MM-8802 breakout boxes
4 Peavey Xframe88 DSP processors
3 QSC CX108V power amps
11 QSC CX168 power amps
7 QSC CX302 power amps
9 QSC CX30V power amps
33 QSC CX602V power amps (including masking)
4 QSC Basis DSP processor
2200 Quam masking speakers
43 Samsung 403T 40" LCD monitors
48 Samsung DVDP241 DVD players
3 Samsung HLN5065W 50" rear-projection DLP monitors
1 Samsung LT-P266W 26" LCD monitor
8 Samsung LTP1795W 17" monitor
3 Samsung SDP900DX document cameras
7 Samsung TPX3075WHF 30 monitors
48 Samsung VR8460 VCRs
7 Sanyo PLCEF31NL 5800 lumen projectors
6 Sanyo PLCXT16 3500 lumen projectors
51 Sanyo PLV70 2200 lumen projectors
10 Sanyo PLVWF10 4000 lumen projectors
5 Sony EVID70 cameras
6 Stewart Filmscreen 60"x75" fixed front-projection screens
w/Grayhawk micro-perforated fabric
1 Stewart Filmscreen 80"x100" fixed front-projection screen
w/Grayhawk micro-perforated fabric
2 Tandberg 6000MPX video codecs
46 Tang Band 3" speakers
2 Tannoy 110SRP subwoofers
28 Tannoy CMS651CT15 speakers
165 Tannoy CMS651CT60 speakers
89 Tannoy CMS6TDC60 speakers
8 Tannoy I5AW speakers
80 Tannoy I5MP speakers
33 Tannoy I6AW speakers
26 Tannoy I6MP speakers
4 Tannoy V12 speakers
2 Translux tri-color LED displays
List is edited from information supplied by Ford Audio-Video Systems, Inc.


Contributing Editor Jim Stokes has been involved in the AV industry for 33 years as an AV technician and recording studio designer among other areas.

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