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Audio Visual Centres in the 21st century
9 Refurbishments:-should AV design take priority over building design?
9.1 A general consensus seems to prevail in the AV industry that AV equipment is of secondary importance to the lecture theatre itself, the building design taking priority. Frequently equipment is ordered near the end of the building project, the result being a poor compromise. It has to be recognised that the theatre is just a room in which to house students, lecturer and AV equipment.
9.2 This practice must stop and is clearly detrimental and not in the best interests of the institution. Clearly the AV design is of prime importance as it is a tool for teaching and it must have the highest priority. An integrated design is the best option but often overlooked. It is essential to have AV consultants on board from the start.
9.3 Of course the building housing lecture theatres is important and of course one must feel comfortable in the surroundings but that is all, the environment is of secondary importance to the real job in hand which is teaching and learning.
9.4 If the latter is true why is the AV component normally an appendage to the overall design and why do the AV budgets never quite stretch far enough.
9.5 I suspect that at the end of the day it is normally due to poor representation at the appropriate level and will continue to be a problem for Media Service Units until it is addressed.
9.6 Time after time I hear stories of AV companies being called to a university only after the design concepts have been finalised. They then have to shoe horn the equipment into a space which is often inadequate for the task.
9.7 Points to consider:-
1) How is the space going to be used.
2) What level of AV support can the institution afford. This is an overriding factor which cannot be ignored and as an example of best practice the provisional AV budget should be determined long before the architects are appointed. Always add a contingency factor to allow for :-
a) Time lag between design and installation.
b) Prices increases which may be in the pipe line.
c) Developments in technology / upgrades.
9.8 Additional factors although not exhaustive must also be considered before appointing architects.
1) Set the parameters for the ideal AV system in broad terms within the limitations of the proposed budget and space available.
2) Set the technical parameters which you will not relinquish e.g. large projection screens. Provision for dual video data projection is as crucial as 35mm dual projection and must be included where practicable. Dual 35mm projection should be standard in larger rooms and theatres. Multiple projection is used occasionally and projectors should be capable of being linked to other projectors of the same type with appropriate control systems, all must be dual lamp versions. OHP screens single or twin.
3) Type of writing surface green glass / white steel or vitreous enamel.
4) Writing boards mounting; fixed or counter balanced columns.
5) Sound systems: PA, Film / Video.
6) Projection box and its associated equipment.
7) Large projection windows are essential. (see appendix four for specification sheets)
9.9 Below are some factors which are essential design criteria required by the architects and AV consultants if they are to produce a first class design that works.
1) Never allow architects to appoint their own AV consultants, it is an expensive option as they will inevitably add a handling charge and equipment will be very expensive.
2) Preferred suppliers should always be contacted in the first instance. The price advantage is usually more attractive and removes the tedium of the tendering process as this has been undertaken by the consortia on behalf of all institutions or subscribers.
3) It is essential to obtain two additional quotations based on the same specification as a safeguard. If there are discrepancies that do not appear to favour the approved supplier this should always be referred back to your local purchasing officer for investigation.
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