Below is an article written by Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune about the restoration of Oak Park’s historic Unity Temple. Blair gives a great summary of the Unity Temple restoration project and a brief history of the temple itself. Pentegra Systems began an audiovisual, security and data network design build installation at the historic Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL last year. To find out more about the integrated solution Pentegra Systems installed at Unity Temple, head on over to our Unity Temple Success Story page.
Frank Lloyd Wright was never one to fret about meeting deadlines, sticking to budgets or roofs that leaked. So there is something fitting about the delayed, but altogether triumphant, restoration of Wright’s Unity Temple, the Oak Park landmark that is the finest public building of Wright’s Chicago years and home to one of the most beautiful rooms in America.
Instead of finishing on schedule last fall, the $25 million project is wrapping up just in time for the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birthday, June 8. The building’s Unitarian Universalist congregation will return for services June 11. A formal ribbon-cutting and open house are scheduled for June 17. It’s as though Wright himself had willed the timing to demonstrate afresh his genius at the very moment when public attention will be riveted on his legacy.
For decades, scholars and critics have remarked upon the striking contrast between Unity Temple’s exterior and interior: The former, made of exposed concrete, is monumental, monochromatic and seemingly impenetrable. The latter, a skylit room with multiple seating tiers, is grand yet human-scaled, enlivened by a rich palette of earth-toned colors, and as airy as the concrete cube is heavy.
Yet the restoration breaks down this dichotomy, revealing a strong aesthetic connection between the radically severe exterior and the warm, intimate interior — a new unity, if you will, for Unity Temple. The key step involves the return of robust interior finishes that once wove a thread of nature-inspired continuity between inside and outside. Without them, we now know, Unity Temple was simply not whole.
The practically-minded will be delighted to know that the restoration also delivers creature comforts like air conditioning that will prevent the heavenly interior from turning hellishly hot come summer. The exterior is even said to be leak-free. We’ll have to see about that, given Wright’s infamous track record of leaky flat-roofed buildings that forced their occupants to haul out drip buckets for what they referred to as “one-bucket,” “two-bucket” and “three-bucket” rains.
Success, it’s often said, has many fathers, and so it is with here: A team of consultants led by Chicago’s Harboe Architects has lavished exacting care on every aspect of this project, from the restoration of jewel-like art glass to the recreation of textured plaster walls. This high level of quality was made possible by $10 million lead grant from Chicago’s Alphawood Foundation, $1.75 million from the congregation and the rest from private donors.
Yet there’s a catch, as there always seems to be with Wright, who frequently lived beyond his means: The nonprofit that spearheaded the project, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, still must raise roughly half the project’s budget. For now, a bridge loan covers those costs. The restoration itself offers the best advertisement for foundations and individuals to make up the balance.
From the first, financial constraints have shaped Unity Temple, which sits amid Oak Park’s thriving downtown at 875 Lake St. After the congregation’s Gothic Revival church burned in 1905, its leaders asked Wright, who was born into a Unitarian family in 1867, to design a new building on a prominent site along Lake Street’s noisy streetcar line. The budget, a mere $45,000, did not allow for expensive materials or elaborate ornament. So Wright, ever the innovator, fashioned his design from inexpensive poured-in-place concrete.
Victorians accustomed to embroidered surfaces must have been shocked by the monolithic abstraction of the completed 1908 building: A high-walled house of worship along Lake Street, joined by a foyer to a social hall and classroom building called Unity House. The passages to, and through, the sanctuary were equally radical. A circuitous route — the classic Wright trope known as the “path of discovery” — led from Lake Street to the entrance on a quiet side street. Inside, more turns took the worshipper from dark, tightly-confined ground-floor spaces that Wright labeled “cloisters” on upward and into the sanctuary’s spectacular explosion of space and light.
It was — and is — an extraordinary gathering place, in which space flows freely, liberated from the convention of the box. Yet there’s a profound sense of order and repose, as if one had come upon a light-dappled glade. The intimacy is palpable, courtesy of tiered balconies which ensure that no seat is more than 45 feet from the pulpit. Sunlight filters down from a grid of skylights, creating an effect that Wright compared to a “happy cloudless day.” Instead of turning its back on the minister to exit, congregation members pass through doors cut into walls on either side of the pulpit. In theory, at least, one enters as an individual and leaves as a member of a community
“Unity Temple is where you will find the first real expression of the idea that the space within the building is the reality of that building,” Wright remarked in 1952, seven years before his death.
But like many Wright buildings, Unity Temple challenged the patience and finances of its occupants. Even after a 1973 renovation covered the failing original exterior with a layer of “shotcrete,” a pneumatically-applied concrete, cracks and chipping persisted. Naturally, the building’s many roofs leaked. Seepage from the building’s internal drains, which were concealed in interior columns, weakened its concrete bones. When a large chunk of the ceiling fell in the middle of the night nine years ago, “it was a wake-up call about the instability of the building,” recalled the Rev. Alan Taylor, Unity Temple’s senior minister.
The restoration team has done meticulous work, beginning with the exterior, where portions of the 1973 shotcrete have been removed and replaced with new swaths of the material. Along with new roofs, restored art glass and enlarged internal drains, the new shotcrete is supposed to create that rarest of conditions in a Wright building — a structure that doesn’t leak like a sieve. “The system is good. It’s been tested,” said Gunny Harboe of Harboe Architects, who worked on the project with colleague Bob Score. (The building’s sagging eaves were fixed in 2002.)
Replacing the shotcrete also presented an aesthetic challenge. Unity Temple’s exterior is not a simple flat gray but a richly-textured aggregate of cement, sand and pebbles that range in color from white to brown to flint. Getting the right blend was like finding the elusive mix for a perfect cocktail. Contractors had to do some spots two or three times before the work was pronounced satisfactory.
The outcome largely avoids the pitfalls of a patchwork, although close inspection reveals slight variations in color. Yet time, weathering and the curing of the shotcrete should eventually blur those distinctions. And it will be no great sin if some of them remain. Unity Temple’s exterior has always had a certain mottled look. One of Wright’s prime tenets was to build “in the nature of materials,” which meant respecting their inherent properties. New in-ground night lighting will showcase the handsomely refurbished exterior and its decorative concrete columns.
The real revelations, though, are inside, where all interior surfaces have been returned to their 1908 appearance. That may not sound dramatic but it’s a major shift when you realize that multiple coats of paint, even modern latex paint, had been slathered onto the original walls. That rendered them flat and textureless, which was not what Wright intended.
Drawing on historic photographs and microscopic paint analysis, the architects and Philadelphia’s Building Conservation Associates re-created three types of textured plaster walls (rough, semi-rough and smooth) and Wright’s earth-toned color palette (pale yellow, green and brown). Contractors applied glazes over the plaster, giving them their color and a luminous sheen appropriate to a sacred space. The outcome is subtle but striking, especially within the sanctuary.
From the skylight to the ground floor, the freshly-remodeled interior walls have a new sense of texture and motion, restoring a lost layer of visual richness. Just as important, the interior now engages in a quiet but unmistakable dialogue with the building’s textured-concrete exterior. Inside and outside are opposites yet part of the same whole, a yin-yang relationship that makes tangible Wright’s elusive gospel of an “organic architecture.”
“No one’s seen it that way in a long time,” Harboe said.
To their credit, the team of designers has addressed a host of practical issues without aesthetic sacrifice.
Shallow trenches were dug in the concrete walls, then covered with plaster, to allow for the rewiring of electrical fixtures. LEDs were installed beneath the sanctuary’s skylights to give worshippers in the top seating tiers improved lighting as they read from prayer books. Mechanical systems were deftly inserted in the four hollow columns that support the building. Geothermal wells — nine of them, descending 500 feet beneath the front lawn — will provide the air conditioning the building has long lacked. New theater lights will improve Unity Temple’s ability to host performances.
A comparable assortment of formal and functional improvements are being made to Unity House, though they were not complete when I toured last week.
What a change has transpired since 2000, when the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (now Landmarks Illinois) placed the deteriorating Unity Temple on its annual list of the state’s most endangered structures! Today, Unity Temple is a landmark renewed, an enduring statement of Wright’s genius and a vivid reminder that his brilliance extended far beyond the Prairie Style houses for which he is best known. There can be no better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth than to see and experience this revived masterpiece.
Please visit www.pentegrasystems.com for all of your audio and video needs or give us a call at (630) 941-6000 for more information.
When designing an office or school, or any type of building or structure for that matter, there are many factors that contribute to the final design. Every building serves a purpose. It houses people and provides them with a space to fulfill some sort of task whether it is to work or live in. Some of these factors that determine the ultimate design of any type of structure include space available to build, zoning and various regulations, expected number of occupants and placement of utilities. For example, when building a restaurant architects and planners’ first order of business is to designate where the kitchen will be to cook the food for the customers. When designing a typical industrial space, architects and planners need to assign specific areas for office and warehouse space. Areas for conference rooms and huddle rooms are designated when planning out typical office spaces. Decisions like these are most often the first step in the building process. However, more often than not, the occupants in these buildings often face major dilemmas when trying to introduce technology into their newly built space. Technology has become such a critical part of everyday life, it’s unavoidable. When planning out a new building or space, technology should be the first factor to be considered.
In the modern workspace, technology is a must-have and the term “technology” covers so much ground since it has been integrated into almost every aspect of everyday life. Businesses rely on their technology to keep their operations going. Above all else, every workspace needs internet connection capabilities, a data infrastructure, a security system and telecommunication capabilities. In order for these systems to work sufficiently, the planning for these systems is critical. Space must be designated early in the building process to accommodate the necessary technology that comes with these systems. If a data infrastructure is needed, ample space is needed to accommodate the servers, routers and switches that will allow the inter-connectivity of the work place. In addition to this equipment, cabling is also an integral piece of the puzzle. The last thing occupants of a newly built facility want are random wires and cables from their data, security or telecommunication systems running up and down walls or laying on the floor being a visual blemish and/or potential safety hazard.
Some types of structures depend more on technology than others. When talking about arenas, stadiums, lecture halls and theaters as well as houses of worship, the most important component is the sound. Audio is the main attraction to these types of facilities, enhancing the unique atmosphere. Hearing your favorite band close out a festival, listening to the pastor give a sermon at your local church or hearing the referee announce a crucial penalty call with seconds to go in the fourth quarter, all these examples need to be heard by everyone within the facility. When designing a space, the type of equipment and the placing of said equipment can make or break the experience. When designing these structures, architects and planners need to keep in mind of how the sound is going to get from a stage, altar or field to the ears of the audience. In addition to the space and cabling needed for the appropriate equipment, the actual space of these structures must be evaluated based solely on the traveling of the sound. For example, an indoor stadium’s sound system will differ greatly from that of an outdoor stadium. If not planned accordingly, there might be many distraught faces in the crowd who are unaware of what is going on due to the sound system that was installed into a structure not properly designed for the space or the application. Speakers and microphones vary in terms of projection and sound and many facilities need equipment that is appropriate for its designated space. Video screens and projectors compliment the audio system in many of these facilities. The video elements are in many ways just as important as the sound. Depending on your seats for an event, you might actually find yourself watching the video walls or nearby large format displays to catch the action on the field or the performance on the stage. When planning a facility such as these mentioned, the placement of the equipment such as video screens needs to be able to be seen by everyone watching which could definitely affect building plans if not taken into consideration early on.
One of the most significant issues when introducing new technologies into your space is the integration. All of the systems mentioned above have the ability to be integrated together and the potential of all these technologies can be maximized when integrated together. Taking technology into account in the planning process will ensure seamless integration of multiple technologies, deliver the technology that today’s users want and need, reduce overall infrastructure costs and substantially reduce unwanted “surprises” in the end. In today’s world when designing a building or space, the design process needs begin with the technology.
No matter what system you are incorporating into your new space, planning for your technology needs should be a top priority from the beginning. At Pentegra Systems, we work closely with our clients to provide them the right audio, video, data, security and telecommunication technologies that support their business goals. Serving customers throughout Chicagoland, Pentegra aspires to be the first company you call for your system integration needs. Ready to learn more? Visit us at www.pentegrasystems.com. We are happy to help!
Pentegra Systems was honored to be a part of the new Writers Theatre facility in Glencoe, IL providing all of the audiovisual integration systems. Below is an article posted by SEGD highlighting this revolutionary new space that officially opened this past March.
Since it started in the back room of a bookstore in 1992, the hallmark of Chicago’s Writers Theatre has always been intimacy. When it needed more space to grow and survive financially, WT didn’t want to lose that original small-theater feel. Its new 36,000-sq.-ft facility in Glencoe, Ill., designed by Studio Gang Architects, offers an open, welcoming space that invites the public in and galvanizes the potential of theater to unite people through shared experience. Signage and environmental graphics by Thirst (Chicago) support the flexible, transparent architecture and celebrate Writers’ unique history and spirit.
Innovative partnership, unique space
The theater’s most recent home, a 108-seat space in the Woman’s Library Club of Glencoe, wasn’t large enough to support WT’s growth. Meanwhile, the suburb 20 miles north of Chicago was implementing an ambitious master plan to integrate more cultural and commercial spaces in its downtown. Ultimately, Writers partnered with the Woman’s Library Club and the Village of Glencoe to build a one-of-a-kind theater center that would also energize downtown as a vibrant public gathering space.
Studio Gang’s solution is anchored by a public lobby/gathering area, two performance venues and an open second-floor gallery walk surrounded by supporting timber Vierendeel trusses and a lighter wood lattice hung in tension from the primary structure. In warm weather, it opens to an adjacent public park and downtown. At night, it glows like a lantern. A rooftop pavilion and green roof provide additional event space.
Graphics: Lighten up
Thirst was tasked with creating signage and environmental graphics that would support and complement the architecture while integrating WT’s existing brand into the space. Thirst’s job started from the outside in, with the building identity.
“We wanted to find a way to lighten the visual impact of all signage, in order to bring maximum respect to both the architecture and the neighborhood,” says Thirst’s John Pobojewski.
To reduce the visual density of the logo on the outside of the building, Thirst came up with the concept of outlining it in LED light instead of reproducing it in its solid form. To fabricate the unique sculptural piece, they brought in artisans Forms + Surfaces (the company responsible for most of the exterior furnishings for Apple stores around the world). Forms + Surfaces engineered the thinnest profile possible that would allow the sculpture to be structurally sound, and built the entire piece out of non-directional stainless steel in a proprietary finish called “Ice.”
To continue to lighten the visual load, Thirst separated the existing WT logo and word mark—designed by Chicago’s Lowercase Inc—placing the full name away from the sculpture, on the southwestern edge of the building. The façade-mounted sign is also rendered in stainless steel, this time as a halo-lit expression. Poblocki Sign Company fabricated the identity sign as well as the remainder of the signage package.
Performing arts = changing arts
Thirst was also responsible for interior signage, donor recognition and a unique history installation in the space. In addition, Thirst had to accommodate messaging for upcoming productions, information that inherently changes, and often. Integrating all of these elements into the architecture presented challenges, particularly given that Studio Gang’s interior spaces are very open, with little wall space.
Information on upcoming productions is essential to a performing arts center, so Thirst had to get creative about how best to integrate this messaging into the architecture. The best solution, Thirst concluded, was a digital one. So the team designed and conceived a digital signage concept that takes cues from the architectural forms.
“Most existing digital signage systems are too static and not very sophisticated, so we knew we needed to create something custom that was visually connected to the architecture,” explains Pobojewski.
Thirst worked with media production powerhouse Leviathan to help bring the concept to life. Thirst designed the typography, layout and motion design (which mimics the building’s architectural forms) for all messages, while Leviathan engineered and developed the system in TouchDesigner, including a custom content management system that allows WT to sustain the system into the future.
The digital system uses components from Planar’s Clarity Matrix video wall—combining three LCD screens into a tall, slim wall-mounted tower. In addition, three stand-alone 16- by 9-in. screens, also by Planar, are located throughout the theatre. All are networked as one system, which was installed and configured by Pentegra.
In additional to traditional room identification and regulatory signage throughout the center, Thirst also designed unique graphic elements including an interior marquee wall, a donor recognition wall and an “About WT” history installation.
Letting patrons know about the upcoming season’s performances is critical for theaters like WT, so Thirst wanted to create a unique and memorable version of the traditional exterior theater marquee. Studio Gang clad much of the interior wall surfaces in a custom “woven wall” of alternating wood wedges that create an elegant horizontal rhythm throughout the space. Poblocki integrated a traditional slat wall application together with Cain, the millworker, and created a collection of stand-alone letters that can be used to create the titles of upcoming productions.
“The season marquee is made of individual acrylic letters that Writers can arrange on a slat wall to display the different productions from each season, and even custom messages for special events,” explains Pobojewski.
Thirst also designed the “bookshelf wall,” which tells the story of Writers Theater and its history and past productions. Studio Gang wanted to honor the theatre’s humble beginnings in one of the primary corridors. Thirst’s solution was bookshelves filled with images, artifacts and bound scripts from their history. Together with Poblocki, the Thirst team conceived a series of gridded sizes, shadowboxes and display formats that would allow the theater to create and manage the display in a cost-effective way. Each panel is a mounted digital print, attached to the shelves with metal pegs on a grid of pre-drilled holes. Custom shadowboxes hold props and other artifacts from their history. Writers curated their own display, which shows both the flexibility and the elegance of the system.
The theatre expects to increase its number of people attending performances from 35,000 to 45,000 annually, and the space is quickly becoming a popular gathering spot in Glencoe. For the Thirst team, the project’s success is in how the graphics and signage complement Studio Gang’s reinterpretation of the 21st century theater experience.
Says Pobojewski, “Our goal was to create a design that was tightly integrated with the architecture… Along the way, we discovered where our work could contribute to a strong sense of place, adding to the memorable experience of being at Writers.”
WRITERS THEATRE SIGNAGE AND ENVIROMENTAL GRAPHICS
Client: Writers Theatre
Location: Glencoe, Ill.
Open Date: March 2016
Project Area: 36,000 sq. ft.
Architect: Studio Gang Architects
Environmental Graphic Design: Thirst
Collaborators: Poblocki Sign Company (static signage and exhibits); Forms + Surfaces (exterior WT sculpture); Leviathan (digital signage media engineer, CMS); Pentegra Systems (A/V integration) Lowercase, Inc. (original identity and branding for Writers Theatre)
Photos: Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing (exterior) and Thirst
Find more content in your areas of interest by exploring SEGD’s Xplore Experiential Graphic Design index!
According to Transparency Market Research’s latest study, at a projected valuation of $6.4 billion around the world, 2020 will represent a clear milestone in the videoconferencing market. That’s a phenomenal compound annual growth rate of 9.36 percent from 2014 to 2020. Industry-wide adoptions at the enterprise level will drive much of this progress.
While many industries have embraced the potential high quality videoconferencing technology has to offer, less traditional verticals like healthcare, defense, and the education industry are also starting to take notice. There are myriad reasons for this exciting growth when it comes to video collaboration—here are some of the most popular ones:
Flexible, Scalable Videoconferencing Solutions Expand the Marketplace
More businesses than ever before can afford videoconferencing solutions. A few years ago, only large organizations with significant tech budgets could afford to implement on-premise solutions with an in-house technology team. Today, companies can access VaaS (Video as a Service) solutions as well as cloud-based videoconferencing solutions at a fraction of the budget needed for in-house hardware, software, and support.
These flexible, cost-effective video opportunities allow small and medium-sized companies to do business in a global environment with the same resources as much larger firms. As more vendors come into the videoconferencing field, the competitive videoconferencing market has replaced previous concerns regarding security and availability with customized solutions that meet those requirements. Cloud and VaaS solutions can offer the same level of security as on-premise solutions, provided that vendors and clients understand their roles in protecting data and video services.
Videoconferencing Drives External and Internal Communication and Collaboration
As the general economy continues to mobilize globally, businesses can significantly cut overhead costs with the right videoconferencing solution. Remote workers can easily engage with teams around the world. Office branches in different states and countries can meet as necessary without stopping their daily work to fly to one central location.
HR and recruiting professionals can use videoconferencing to easily interview candidates regardless of location. Customer support professionals and account executives can also use videoconferencing tools to pitch products, help customers troubleshoot a problem, or work on a rollout project. Videoconferencing adds value universally.
In the healthcare industry, a main driver of videoconferencing growth, doctors can conduct remote consultations and discuss medical findings with ease through video-collaboration meetings. In the education industry, students and teachers from all over the world can connect in a virtual classroom to discuss ideas and grow in a global environment. The possibilities for interaction with high quality videoconferencing tools impact all sizes of business, industries, and initiatives. Even retailers, manufacturers, and restaurant managers can use videoconferencing to enhance operations and collaboration.
Invest in and Optimize for Videoconferencing Today
As the use of videoconferencing solutions of all kinds becomes more commonplace, organizations and consumers may start to expect a certain level of digital capability. If you still travel to a place and plan to charge a client for an in-person meeting that could easily occur through videoconference, you may lose clients or be asked to absorb the travel costs in the future. Start investing in videoconferencing solutions and optimization today to maintain a competitive edge during this industry growth spurt.
Learn more about how Pentegra Systems’ Collaborative Communication solutions can design, engineer and install your new videoconferencing system today!
When it comes to AV Technology, most businesses make the common mistake of planning for technology only after their building has been constructed or their remodeling project is at the verge of completion. This leads to yet another grave mistake–equipment design that’s not compatible with their business needs and an infrastructure that is not adequate after the building is completed. This could and often does result in high additional costs or unsightly wires. This is a situation best avoided. But how? The answer lies in ensuring that your technology integrator walks you through the design process while understanding your business needs. The best integrators can sense the bigger picture, so they acquaint their clients with the pros and cons of a particular design while suggesting what is best for them. This can not only cut down the unnecessary cost of unwanted or unnecessary features, but also creates a bond of trust between the integrator and the client.
How important is the design phase?
Proper design has a great impact on the final outcome of your projects. Naturally, a lot depends on your integrator’s understanding of your business processes and your specific requirements. This is where a step gone wrong can cost you not only time, but budget overages as well. To avoid this, choose an integrator who makes you a part of the design process. This eliminates a lot of confusion, missed details, and extra costs. And, as there grows a level of trust and understanding between you and your integrator that comes as a natural result of working together, you can rely on them for your future projects.
Which factors to consider in your design phase?
Before starting your audio visual project, there are several factors you need to consider in the design phase. It’s important that you have multiple sittings with your AV integrator during this phase to arrive at a point where you’ve been able to convey your exact requirements and the integrator has attained a full understanding of your business process and your specifications.
Here are the important factors you need to discuss during the design phase.
Who is your audience?
Determine the primary user group and how tech savvy they are. It’s always best to go a little deeper in knowing what would be the right fit for your audience. Use age group, user habits and other demographics, and a full understanding of their needs as points for discussion.
What is the present condition of your building?
The age of your building plays an important role in deciding the audio visual technologies you would want to integrate. Take your integrator on a tour around your building before the process of design commences, then, as construction and design are underway, make sure you continue to tour and inspect regularly, as it’s not unusual for things to come up that you’ve not thought of in the early phases of the project.
What are your audio requirements?
Both internal and external sound can affect the quality and effectiveness your AV system. Discuss with your integrator about the optimal audio conditions before they can work on them.
Which are the optimum lighting and heat conditions for your technology?
It’s important to assess the amount of natural and ambient light the room receives before planning an AV system for it.
What kind of electrical and cabling would be best suited to your needs?
Talk to your integrator with regard to the specific electrical, IP, and cabling that you’ll require.
What type of screen would you need?
The size of the screen is an important factor. It has a lot of impact on your audio visual experiences and will (and should) ultimately drive everything. The size of the room and the number of people it would seat are critical matters to consider while determining the right screen size.
What are your video conferencing requirements?
Be very clear about your video conferencing preferences when discussing these factors with your integrator. Chalk out every small detail, such the camera placement or what kind of microphone you would need based on your video conferencing habits and requirements.
After discussing the above points with your integrator, both of you can have greater clarity as to what design might work for the benefit of your business. This is not only an important step toward an ideal AV system design, but also a step closer to finding an integrator who will most fully understand your business.
What are your experiences? Have you been an active participant in the design phase of a project? Have you worked with clients who were? We’d love to hear more.
In the past, audio systems in sports stadiums and arenas were primarily used for voice-over announcements. Big screens and Jumbotrons are also common fixtures in stadiums and arenas. But with the evolution of sports, the increasing sophistication of audiences and fans, combined with the advancements in technology, today’s ultimate theater experience is all about having clear, audible sound throughout the facility. Sports entertainment has become more experiential. Owners of stadiums from local high schools to the big leagues aspire to keep fans entertained while also making sure that they do all they can to connect and engage with their fans. Quite often, the secret to maintaining high energy during down times is through the use of music and videos. And, it goes without saying that if you want high energy and high impact experience, that’s absolutely going to require crisp sound.
Challenges in creating the perfect stadium experience
Sports fans attend events with very high expectations. And in many instances, those high expectations go well beyond what’s happening on the field. Fans are also interested in excellent lighting, crisp video presentation and high-tech sound. After all, it isn’t just a sporting event they’re attending; it’s an experience.
Every stadium’s sound design is unique as the stadium itself. Outfitting each facility comes with its own challenges. Let’s look at the three of those challenges a little more closely.
1. Understanding the importance of good sound design in a stadium environment.
Nowadays, it’s not enough to just offer splashy high definition video screens and massive illuminated scoreboards. Sound plays an important role in the overall guest experience in a modern stadium environment. Many facility owners spend big on the visible amenities such as video screens and luxury boxes, but sound design often takes a back seat, even though it’s highly important to the visitor experience. Not too long ago, all that was required of the in stadium sound system was
for it to function as a basic PA system to announce the score of the game. Fast-forward to today and the typical stadium sound system is now at the heart of the overall stadium audio/video system. Not only does it serve as a PA system, but also functions as a full featured fan entertainment system.
2. Determining the type of audio system best suited for the venue.
Owners of stadium facilities need to pay attention to sound design to ensure the audio fan experience is up to the same standard as the visual experience. This process begins with determining the best sound system for the venue. Working with a qualified sound engineer is imperative to ensure selection of the proper equipment and installation.
3. Proper design and installation of audio system.
It is important to factor in the size of the venue into the equation, and it’s extremely important to avoid installing a system that is too small and inadequate for your venue. Also, things such as speaker placement play a key role in overall audio quality. Nothing is worse than skimping on the initial installation only to re-visit a few years later to make costly retrofitted improvement and upgrades. It’s best to allocate the necessary resources up front to ensure a top-notch audio experience for the fans.
A complete entertainment experience
Today, the stadium experience is about much more than just the game being played on the field. The overall entertainment experience is just as important. With advances in home theatre technology and high quality 4K projection and surround sound systems in many movie theatres, entertainment consumer expectations are higher than ever. People know the difference between a high quality audio experience and an average one. Even high schools are spending tens of thousands of dollars to outfit their football stadiums with the latest in sound system technology, often rivaling big time colleges.
Outdoor stadium operators may feel a bit overwhelmed in planning their sound system installation, but with the proper allocation of resources and partnering with a qualified sound design engineer, a first class audio fan experience can be achieved for many years to come.
Located 75 miles east of Chicago in New Buffalo, Michigan, Four Winds Casino Resort was the first land-based casino in Southeast Michigan. The entertainment complex is composed of a 130,000 square foot casino, a 165-room suite hotel, six restaurants, entertainment bars and retail shops. Four Winds ...