The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 30,000 teachers and personnel of the Chicago Public Schools system and has been doing so for more than 75 years. In 2014, CTU announced that it would be moving their offices from the Merchandise Mart to a newly renovated three-story, 70,000 square foot facility in the heart of the city’s West Side.
Pentegra Systems, working closely with Threshold Acoustics, provided a solution to introduce and implement technologies that Chicago Teachers Union did not have previously in their former headquarters. This specification included technologies that enhanced everyday operations, collaboration, leisure, interactivity and future events within the facility. The goal of this project was to provide a state of the art audiovisual system for all in-house Chicago Teachers Union staff as well as visitors to the new headquarters. In order to accomplish this, Pentegra Systems worked with Threshold Acoustics to create a robust network that was capable of withstanding all of the video traffic from the several encoders in this complex audiovisual system.
When you enter Chicago Teachers Union’s new facility on the West Side, you walk right into the lobby area and Pentegra’s AV installation immediately stands out. Inside the lobby you will see a large 70” wall mounted display. This display can be used for digital signage as well as displaying any content from any device using the various connections on the AV wall plates. Every aspect of this display is controlled via a wall mounted touch screen. The lobby is quite spacious and can hold a fair amount of personnel. The most important function of the lobby area is to hold impromptu press conferences. In the designated press conference area, there are floor pockets featuring inputs for microphones, as well as AV wall plates with audio feeds available to members of the press. The ceiling is fitted with a ceiling mounted speaker system as well as wireless microphones to easily facilitate any press conference instantly.
As you begin to make your way past the lobby you will venture into a large assembly hall. This is a multipurpose space and can hold any event CTU hosts. It is a venue with high ceilings and if you look closely you will see Pentegra’s presentation system. In the ceiling there are two dual-lamp digital projectors. Those projectors display content onto the two motorized 189” diagonal projection screens that are located just above the stage. Each projector has the ability to show its own image so you can have two different projections on the screens at once. This presentation system is also controlled via a wall mounted touch screen control system. Located on the north side of the assembly hall are two HD indoor PTZ cameras. These cameras can capture any happenings going on inside the assembly hall and can directly send that video to the overhead projectors, perfect for the audience to see presenters giving a speech or any other happenings on the stage. Around the ceiling projectors you will also see ceiling speakers that provide all the sounds necessary to facilitate any event CTU may hold. The audio is controlled by a mixer that can be totally controlled via an iPad. AV wall plates are also located in the assembly hall complete with microphone inputs and speaker outputs as well as AV data jacks to show content on the projector via external devices.
Pentegra also installed presentation systems in various conference rooms as well as classrooms throughout the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters. The majority of these conference rooms are equipped with 70” interactive flat panel displays. These displays take conferencing to the next level whether it is meeting with colleagues in the same room or anywhere around the world. These displays come equipped with video conferencing abilities complete with built in cameras making distance a nonfactor when it comes to meetings. These interactive displays are also digital whiteboards. You can create and annotate with the greatest of ease using this technology. These displays are all easily controlled via the tabletop touch screen control panels. There is also a pop-up module at the center of all conference tables that contains both power and interactivity connections. This allows the user to hook up a device such as a laptop and transmit that display onto the wall mounted 70” inch display for convenience. In the rooms that do not contain these displays, Pentegra installed one or multiple short throw projectors. These projectors are all also controlled via wall mounted touch screen and project onto wall mounted motorized projection screens. These are perfect for displaying content such as presentations, videos or any content necessary in a conference room or classroom setting. The audio is supported via either ceiling mounted speakers or in the case of the rooms with interactive displays, a sound bar located right below the flat panel.
One of the major highlights of this project is the third floor boardroom. The most important meetings need top-of-the-line equipment that is also easy to use and Pentegra Systems delivered such a solution. This boardroom consists of an 84” flat panel display equipped with a camera right below it pointing towards the boardroom table to get a perfect view of all board members for videoconferencing capabilities. On the boardroom table sit unique tabletop small disc-shaped wired microphones. These mics are easily operable with LED lights, green meaning the mic is live and red meaning the mic is offline. All aspects of this system can be controlled either from the wall mounted touch panel or the tabletop mini touch screen.
Pentegra Systems created a system that brings Chicago Teachers Union into the 21st Century of audiovisual capabilities. In the world of education, collaboration is key and this system provides countless possibilities to collaborate and improve not only education, but also business. Although they are teachers, even teachers never stop learning and this system facilitates further learning opportunities with a wide range of collaboration and meeting spaces highlighted by the audiovisual technologies Pentegra Systems installed. Pentegra Systems saw the vision that Chicago Teachers Union had for their brand new facility and professionally engineered and executed this installation to make their vision become a reality.
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