in May 2007
Next Generation Education
By Jim Stokes
Teaching with a technology twist at Wolf Law School.
|The new Wolf Law Building at the University of Colorado features systems that are networked together to facilitate individual room control and building-wide utilization reporting.
AV is an integral part of education at the Wolf Law School at the University of Colorado in Boulder CO (UC-Boulder). Capabilities include everything from basic presentation systems to videoconferencing and digital recording. Within the new $46.3 million, five-story, 184,000-square-foot building, 26 rooms receive AV-related technology. We’ll be covering the AV install with integrator Digital Roads. But first, some other project perspectives.
Saunders Construction, Denver, in its role as general contractor and construction manager, joined the architectural team of Davis Partnership, Denver, and Centerbrook Architects, Centerbrook CT, to build the new law school. Construction was finished in only 18 months, with the Boulder campus welcoming students for an Autumn 2006 opening and dedication. Ceremonies featured United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and UC Law alumnus Karen Mathis, president of the American Bar Association. Among the attributes of the newly completed Wolf Law School are two high-tech courtrooms and a law library that’s a regional archive for the US government.
In his address at the dedication, David Getches, UC Law School dean, said, “We are delighted with Colorado Law’s stunning new home. From design and planning, to the complexities of construction, this huge project has been a team effort….Completing a large and complicated building like this on time and on budget is a remarkable triumph of expert construction management, especially given the tight constraints of our schedule and financial situation.”
At press time, the university was awaiting confirmation of the highest level “green” building award, having already acquired the Silver Level. The top Gold Level LEED Certification is named for its energy efficiency and attention to the environment. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable (aforementioned “green”) buildings. Furthermore, student fees paid for 60% of the building project, with the university setting aside 1% to help meet the Gold LEED Certification. This remarkable student financial support has no precedent to any other known major facility on the Boulder campus or at any other university.
There’s an AV aspect to the project, as well, with “Go Green with Crestron.” According to Crestron’s criteria, “A single streamlined system often draws less power and reduces emissions. Crestron integrated automation and management systems create synergy among disparate energy resources, increasing the efficiency of all environmental systems.”
AV, Building Credits
Our interviewees from integrator Digital Roads, Denver, were Joe Cantrell, systems engineer and Crestron programmer, and Mary Hood, CEO. We talked to Chris Bell, IT manager at UC’s Boulder Law School. In addition, the law building AV system designer was Brian Murphy, EDI Ltd. Consulting Engineers, Atlanta GA. Digital signage in the cafeteria was provided by Four Winds Interactive, Golden CO. Others at UC instrumental in this project include project manager Rich Deborski and Scott Pepper, law professor, chair of Technology Committee.
Regarding contractor Saunders Construction, Cantrell pointed out, “They were fantastic to work for. This building was put up in 18 months. Although the schedule was tight, it was very workable. We had enough lead time and enough logistics in place to get everything we needed done. All classroom systems were up and running, and in place for the students the first week in September .” He also noted that the two courtrooms were up and running for the dedication presentations.
|A central control room facilitates advanced routing and equipment sharing
between the two courtrooms.
Taking a long view of AV use in the law school, it encompasses such areas, tools and capabilities as DVD/VCR media, document camera, laptop computer data, videoconferencing (both fixed and mobile), digital MPEG recording and archival, broadcast TV, internal RF distribution for proceedings in the two courtrooms and digital signage in the cafeteria. We’ll highlight and detail some of those areas here. Crestron control is the electronic thread that runs throughout all the rooms.
The stellar AV attraction consists of two courtrooms, which are served conveniently by one master control/head end room located between them. Crestron control consists of the AV2 processor, TPS-17 Isys widescreen tilt touchpanel and STX-1700, two-way wireless control touchpanel. We’ll delve into related systems and how they help the school’s IT manager later.
For now, however, we’ll cover other essential components that are common to the courts and classrooms. All teaching spaces are equipped with Listen Technologies hearing assist systems for ADA compliancy. The Mulnix lectern is a staple, as well. The presentation podium has an Extron cable cubby and two VGA inputs. The microphone plugs into a floor box, which is selectable in the room. Now, onto a tour of the courts.
The larger Wittemyer Courtroom has three Draper projection screens, provided by the general contractor, which are fired on by Mitsubishi projectors. Specifically, the main center screen is 150-inch diagonal, and the two outlying screens are 120-inch. Several Shure mics were specified for the court. The seven judges’ benches use goosenecks. Counselors use 395 omnis. And Shure wireless also is used, variously, within the courtroom, as well.
“Each judge has an independent monitor feed,” explained Cantrell, “so evidence could be presented to each judge. The judge indicates either ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ whether that evidence goes on a projection screen for all to see.” Crown-powered JBL ceiling speakers ensure good coverage throughout the courtroom, for not only program sound but also sound reinforcement. The courtroom has five floor box locations accommodating VGA inputs and outputs via Extron interfaces. RCI customized the plates.
Regarding use, Cantrell pointed out that the room was designed to be operated by various law school users. “Access is via the Crestron STX-1700 that sits on the podium, which looks like a lot of the classrooms, so students are able to come in and operate the courtroom. It’s a functional courtroom with a myriad of users, anywhere from the Colorado Clear Air Council to student practice, orientation and appellate court. So, real court actually takes place there. State Supreme Court justices hear cases there.”
Higher Level Functions
The control room has higher level functions, where an operator can come in, run the show and select different camera modes. AV switching is via an Extron CrossPoint matrix switcher. Audio and videoconferencing are done via Clear-One’s audio management and distribution in conjunction with the Tandberg videoconferencing codec. The Wittemyer Court and the smaller Carrigan Teaching Courtroom can share the control room, rackmounted codec.
In the event that both courts have a need to share a codec simultaneously, a portable videoconferencing cart is available for use in a room, or it can be put in the control room and display all the information on the screen. The cart is fully equipped with the same control room-accessed Tandberg codec, a Tandberg Wave primary camera, a Sony EVI-D100 secondary camera with tripod for custom applications, a Shure wireless and a Mitsubishi 40-inch monitor. Crestron programming recognizes the addition of the cart to the room and automatically serves up the required control pages for the user.
Broadcasts are fed throughout the law building and on campus channels. The RF modulators are Blonder Tongue. Specifically, court activities are captured on five Sony PTZ cameras and accessed through a Sony joystick controller in the control room to show different aspects of any proceedings. These include two audience and three judge views. Rather than one long shot, various camera views can be selected in the control room to give viewers a more complete sense of what goes on in court.
There’s an additional press feed, as well, for news media that cover proceedings. Presentations, which can include PowerPoint, camera and microphone program audio, can be burned to DVD. There are two NEC monitors to view the proceedings in the control room, and several others in both courtrooms. Control room AV equipment is housed in two full-sized Middle Atlantic racks.
Carrigan Teaching Court
|Moot and teaching courts were designed to function independently, and to serve as a broadcast hub for the facility.
The teaching courtroom is used for classes, moot court competitions and training in litigation. “It’s set up more like a traditional circuit court,” noted Cantrell. “There’s a single judge’s bench that can formally seat a judge, witness and stenographer. And there’s a jury. The equipment is virtually identical to the larger courtroom. The only difference between the two courts is the amount of equipment.”
Let’s look at the similarities and differences. The Carrigan has only one projector and a 120-inch screen. The switcher is a smaller Extron 8x8 matrix switcher. However, the Crestron control is identical with the larger court. The same goes for the DVD and broadcast capabilities. Similar to the larger courtroom, viewing is via NEC monitors for the judge, witnesses, jury, counselors and spectator areas. And proceedings are captured by Sony wall-mounted cameras. Shure hardwired and wireless mics are provided, as well. “The two courtrooms can be used as an overflow area from one to another,” Cantrell pointed out. “If I were holding a real court in the teaching court, but I wanted to have the entire larger court capacity to be able to view the proceedings on the big 150-inch diagonal screen, I could set that up via the controls.”
There are 10 classrooms, which vary in size from 50 to 100 seats, in addition to a colloquium and six seminar rooms. Within these rooms, users interact with Crestron TPS-2000L, lectern-mounted touchpanels, which are mounted in a Middle Atlantic SRSR slide out rack. In turn, the rack frames are encased in custom millwork with a Plexiglas security panel overlay. Mary Hood noted that this type of secure housing for the equipment “can’t be monkeyed with.”
Taking the largest, 100-seat classroom as a model, there’s a ClearOne sound processor for audio conferenc-ing. There are dual Mitsubishi projectors and selectable, left and right, 120-inch diagonal screens. The videocon-ferencing cart can be brought in and plugged into a wall plate. “The rooms are designed so all the racks and amplifiers are laid out identically,” said Cantrell. “The only difference is, where equipment was not used or not needed for that particular classroom, they left a blank panel there. It allowed them total flexibility. [For instance], the 50- to 56-seat classrooms have only one projector, but those rooms are ready to add a second projector, if that’s needed.”
Highlighting the Rest
Highlighting the rest of our model, 100-seat classroom, there’s a Listen listening assist system for the hearing impaired. A Crown power amplifier drives 11 JBL ceiling speakers. There are two Shure wireless as well as a gooseneck mic. Source equipment includes a Samsung DVD/VCR combination, ensuring that digital discs, as well as videotapes, can be presented during class.
Cantrell pointed out that the purpose of the law school’s five interview rooms is to “allow students to conduct interviews or take depositions as part of their class work. One of the requirements is that the instructor must be capable of going on the internet and able to listen and view a student deposition, then record it.” The rooms have Vivotek IP cameras with external mics mounted in the ceiling. A Titus Technologies “On Air” recording light illuminates when the recording event is triggered by a Hubbell wall key switch, which the student has. The interview camera is managed with Vivotek IP camera security software in the control room on the IBM server computer, which has a DVD burner.
So the interviews are stored in the server, then transferred to DVD. Furthermore, students, staff and faculty can keep abreast of activities in the cafeteria via digital signage displayed on a monitor with a PC mounted on the back, which was supplied by Digital Roads.
As mentioned previously, content was provided by Four Winds Interactive.
Checking Rooms, Blocking Hackers
Cantrell observed that Crestron’s RoomView and XPanel web control tools save law school IT manager Chris Bell “all the up-and-down-the-stairs to do room troubleshooting. He can do that from his PC.”
According to Bell, “XPanel allows me to have control of the rooms from my laptop. Let’s say someone is using a room at night and can’t get equipment to work. I can access that room with the XPanel and control the Crestron system. It’s very helpful.” However, he cautioned that an XPanel has to be kept secure. “We could have some interested hackers on our campus who would love to have the ability to play jokes on faculty members during class.
Before we password-protected our Crestrons, we think we did have some hackers who were coming in and turning projectors on and off and raising and lowering screens in the middle of class.
“So, Digital Roads came up with a great solution of adding a password to every Crestron control unit in every classroom. And that behavior has now stopped. We think we have the hackers blocked out, at least for the moment. Digital Roads has really done a class job. The AV was added to the building by a committee of faculty members before my job was created.”
Bell noted that he’s in charge of the AV, web development and all other aspects of technology in the law school building, many of which don’t involve classroom support. “So it needs to be a system that’s incredibly easy for people to use and easy for maintenance. I think we’ve got it!”
Digital Roads spearheaded value engineering (VE) on the law school AV project. According to CEO Mary Hood, the most impressive aspect of this project is the expanded capabilities and functionality achieved through the collaborative VE process. Having paid around $507,500 less than the high bid and around $81,500 less than the low bid is not the usual story on the functional side of the VE equation.
“The original bid specification had Crestron control in the larger instructional areas only,” she related. “The smaller classrooms and instructional areas were specified to get the campus standard SP Control systems. There was no provision for help desk functionality and intuitive control system adaptability relative to mobile resources. Crestron’s hardware and software capabilities, in conjunction with Digital Roads’ expertise in control system design and programming, created this success.”
Hood noted that it might be expected that there would be sacrifices from basic economics. However, she said, “This simply is not the case. For instance, projector specifications were improved in almost every case, as was the manufacturer’s warranty. Savings came from design and software programming that made the sharing and leveraging of resources practical and easy to use. It wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and input of all members of the VE team.”
Digital Roads Inc.
Security at the Center For Innovation never stops being an issue. Wireless microphones were provided for in the audio design. However, they can be used only during non-classified presentations. To split security hairs further, the point-and-click mouse controllers for the Dell desktop computers in the Command Center can be wireless, but the keyboards cannot. Most of what wireless there is in the heavily shielded building belongs to Lockheed Martin’s own proprietary systems.
All cabling had to meet Department of Defense standards for security reasons, and all had to be shielded and kept at least six inches away from any electrical source. “We kept it 18 inches, just to be sure,” said Tang.
2 Anchor AN-100 rackmount speakers
5 Axis 0233-004 210A network cameras
2 Blonder Tongue MAVM-861-XX RF channel modulators
3 Buhl MCZ series short zoom lenses
26 Chief RPA-U projector mounts
4 ClearOne XAP 400 audio conferencing systems
3 ClearOne XAP 800 audio conferencing systems
1 ClearOne XAP TH2 telephone interface
2 Crestron AV2 controllers
5 Crestron CNX-B4 keypads
6 Crestron CT-1000 3.8" wallmount touchpanels
18 Crestron MP2E controllers
2 Crestron STX-1700C 2-way wireless touchpanels
2 Crestron TPS-17 17" touchpanels
11 Crestron TPS-2000L 5" wallmount touchpanels
2 Crestron TPS-3000L 6.4" wallmount touchpanels
11 Crown CH1 300W/channel @ 70V amps
11 Crown XLS 402 400W amp @ 4 ohms
1 Draper Access V Screen 120" diagonal w/M1300 surface, tab tensioned
Electrograph DTS4200 monitor in Cafeteria for Digital Signage
2 Entech MON-CSVC1 composite/S-video converters
55 Extron AAP (1) RJ45 single
12 Extron AAP Mini 3-pin XLR, single
55 Extron AAP VGA/audio extenders
80 Extron AAP101 single frames
29 Extron XLR-F 4-pin w RJ45 dbl
1 Extron Cable Cubby 200
1 Extron CrossPoint 300 168 HVA
1 Extron CrossPoint 300 88 HVA
1 Extron MAV 62 SVA 6x2 S-video audio
1 Extron MAV-SVA 88 8X8
1 Extron P2DA6xi 1x6 VGA DA
10 Extron presentation switcher
1 GeoForce MX4000 computer
1 IBM 8486E3U Axis XSeries server, 512MB, 80Gig
161 JBL Control 26CT 6½" 2-way vented ceiling speakers
2 Kramer VP703SC scan converters
4 Kramer VP740 presentation switcher scalers
Liberty wire, cables
14 Listen LA-164 ear speakers
14 Listen LR-500-072 programmable FM receivers
12 Listen LT-800-072 72MHz FM transmitters
2 Middle Atlantic WRK-44-27NK 44-space rack w/accessories
19 Mitsubishi XD2000U 3500 lumen XGA, DLP projectors
6 Mitsubishi XD460U 2600 lumen XGA, DLP projectors
1 Mitsubishi XL5950U 5000 lumen XGA LCD w/standard lens
Mulnix custom lectern, provided by Digital Roads
7 NEC ASLD72V-BK 17" AccuSync monitors
4 RCI custom SI panel 2-gang
32 RCI custom SI panel double gang
24 RCI custom SI panel single simple
1 Samsung DTS42LTD 42" LCD w/tuner
20 Samsung DVDV-8500 DVD/VCR combos
1 Samsung SDP-950 VGA document camera
2 Samsung SP-42LT-LR speakers for LCD
Shure 395 omnidirectional mics
27 Shure MX412S/C 12" gooseneck mics
1 Shure ULX2-58 handheld transmitters
8 Shure ULXS14/85 wireless lavalier system
10 Sony EVI-D100 PTZ cameras
2 Sony RDR-GX315 DVD recorders
2 Sony RM-BR300 BRC300 controllers (up to 7 cameras)
7 SPC CatLinc VGA VGA to Cat5 converters
4 SurgeX SX1120RT rackmount power conditioners
2 Tandberg 113540 portable 6000 MXP codec
2 Tandberg 113827NPP portable 6000 MXP codec plus natural presenter package software
2 Tandberg 113827MS portable 6000 MXP codec plus multi-site software
Titus Technologies “On Air” recording lights for interview rooms
Unicomp MP945-BX mini-pandora PC in cafeteria for digital signage
1 Video Furniture International C2736-42 cart VTC for plasma
1 Video Furniture International CAM camera mount, cart
Vivotek 6112 IP video cameras for interview rooms
List is edited from information supplied by Digital Roads Inc.
Sound & Communications Contributing Editor Jim Stokes
has been involved in the AV industry for more than 30 years
as an AV technician and writer.