SOUND VISION, INC.
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|'GREEN AV' ENHANCES ENERGY EFFECIENT BUILDING
AT JUDSON UNIVERSITY
A kaleidoscope of color is invading the riverfront
campus of Judson University in Elgin,
Illinois. Autumn hues mix with the school's
signature blue and gold, but the color that's
really turning heads these days is green.
The Weber Academic Center at Judson University is
the only passively heated and cooled structure of its
kind in the United States. Click for photos.
The newly opened Harm A. Weber Academic
Center is the only building of its kind in the
United States. It is a "green" building,
designed to use the natural warmth of the sun
and coolness of the earth to ventilate and light
all four floors. The result of an international
competition sponsored by Judson's architectural
department, the building houses the
school's new library, art galleries, offices and
eight classrooms fully equipped with AV technology
in keeping with the building's mission.
Designed by British architect Alan Short, the Weber Center is largely heated and cooled from
an enormous interior well that runs up the center of the building. On warm days, cool air from
underground is drawn up the well and released into the building through surrounding windows
and vents operated by computer. When the building needs heat, the computer opens a shade
at the top, allowing the sun to warm the air in the well. Tory Gum, Judson's Vice President of
External Relations, explains that there is a traditional HVAC system for the severest weather,
because after all, this is Chicago. "On milder days, though, the building heats and cools itself. It
uses only 43% of the fossil fuels of a building of similar size."
"Helping this building stay green was an important priority for us, too," says Tom Allison, CTS-S, of
Sound Vision in Elgin. "There are a lot of things AV companies can do to improve the green
aspects of any building, such as putting in motorized shades to deflect solar light or use energy
efficient AV technology."
In the Weber Center, Sound Vision was careful to use only EnergyStar-rated projectors and
audio gear, to help minimize the power consumption of key components. "We also programmed
the AMX system to make sure that those projectors are not left on by accident during
off hours or when the building is closed down," says Allison. "In addition, each equipment rack
goes into standby mode when not used, then shuts down, ensuring that the amplifier and other
equipment consumes very little energy."
One challenge of the green design of the building
was the massive concrete walls and floors it
required. "Ideally we should have been involved
very early in the design process, to ensure that
the conduits needed for cabling to our racks and
equipment were embedded in the concrete,"
says Allison. "That didn't happen, so we had to
get creative and think about how to use the infrastructure
they already had in place."
For example, instead of running bulky co-axial
cables, as would be traditional, Sound Vision
engineers took advantage of new technology to
send all of the video and audio signals over network
cable using Cat5 transmitters and receivers. "This new cabling and Cat5 transmission
allowed us to rely on smaller diameter cabling that fit within the available ¾" conduits."
The Weber Center is the first building on the 44
year old campus to have built-in AV systems.
Sound Vision designed fairly basic systems for
five of the eight new classrooms, each set up as
a computer lab or art or photo studio. These
rooms have ceiling-mounted Panasonic DLP projectors
and motorized or manual wall screens.
The only video source in these rooms is a dedicated
iMac computer or a laptop. Should an
instructor want to show a video, he or she can do
so using the computer's DVD player. The instructor's
location includes a 4" AMX color touchpanel,
which offers local control of the AV system and
allows the schools IT staff to take over should an
instructor have a problem. A small equipment
rack sits nearby for the AMX processor and the
networking equipment. Sound Vision also
installed an audio amplifier at the projector to provide
power to left and right program speakers.
The biggest challenge in these rooms was reverb
from the concrete walls and floors. "The architect
was concerned the sound was going to leave the
room and disrupt other classes," says Allison.
"But I was worried about intelligibility. It's like
being in a church where the reverb is eight milliseconds
and you can't understand a word that's
said." The thickness of the concrete took care of
any disruption problems and careful placement of
the speakers solved the reverb issue.
Sound Vision installed more sophisticated audio
systems in the three larger classrooms. "These
rooms are set up stadium style," says Judson IT Director Steve Dutcher. "Each side looks like a
bow tie. That puts the focus up front so when the instructor is speaking the sound naturally carries
and pushes to the back of the room." To insure coverage, however, Sound Vision technicians
installed speakers in the ceilings or on the walls, added a gooseneck microphone to the
classroom lectern and included a lavaliere mic for mobility. Two of these rooms use ceiling-mounted Panasonic projectors, with multiple source options, and one room uses side-by-side
Projection Design projectors with a slide projection setup as an option.
The growing list of technology installed in these three classrooms created the need for a
teaching station that would put equipment and control at the instructors' fingertips. To this end,
Sound Vision brought in Marshall Furniture of Antioch, Illinois to design a custom lectern. (See
adjoining article.) They also upgraded the control screen for each of these rooms to a 7" AMX
The most impressive of the Weber Center
classrooms is Room 420, the primary architectural
classroom. Visual detail is a major concern
here, so Sound Vision chose to mount not
one, but two Projection Design DLP projectors
with 1400 x 1050 resolution. "They wanted to
have a larger and higher resolution image
because of the type of graphics they use,"
explains Allison. "These include design drawings,
AutoCAD drawings, and renderings of
architectural projects." The projection system
gives instructors the ability to show two images
side by side on an enormous motorized projection
screen. At times they'll compare images
from two computers or show computer graphics
on one screen and DVD video on the other. "Of
course, both the Panasonic and Projection
Design projectors are warranted 24/7," says
Allison, "since the university has them on at
least eight hours most days."
Bringing all these classrooms together was a final touch for Sound Vision. They installed AMX
Asset Manager to give the university's technology support people an upper hand when it
comes to maintenance. SVI installers ran a network connection to either the lectern or the
small equipment rack, which ties each room's Netlinx processor to the Asset Manager software
installed on a server in the IT office. "Through Asset Manager, the university can monitor the
status of these rooms and help any instructor with a problem," says Allison. "They can tell
what the lamp life is, notify security if a projector has been stolen, and anticipate equipment
failures." The software also tracks data on how often each room is being used and what
equipment gets used the most –all important information the college can use to plan for the
As the only Christian University in the country with an architectural degree program, including
a Masters, Judson University takes great pride in what they've accomplished. Students who
want to study green architecture can do so in a green building. "We know it will make our students
extremely marketable," says Gum. "They can go to firms all over the world and be
something more than just another architect.
"It certainly sets us apart from a higher education standpoint," adds Gum, "and I love the idea
that this building takes no more from the earth than it gives back."
Read more about the Judson lectern design and how it was created
Learn more about AMX Asset Manager for networked AV control and support
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